The Haunted – Bentley Little
I found The Haunted to be a good haunted house horror story. It was written in modern style, easy reading, enabling you to get deep into the story very quickly. The characters are your average family, not overly exciting, but they grow on you as the story progresses. A family of four, the Perry’s, move into a new home in an historical area of their South Western city (I’m assuming Arizona or New Mexico). They are shunned by their new neighbors and old friends feel uncomfortable in the home. Each family member seems to behave differently as the influence of the house creeps into them. They hear voices in the house at night and see shadows in the basement. (spoilers ahead)
It’s not until a house-warming party that they learn what is truly occurring in the house, as a ghost parades through the living room, a spectre spectacle in front of many guests. It’s a chilling scene and the anticipation for it builds. I didn’t find everything in the book to be frightening, the text messages and words on the computer screen did very little for me. However there were more interesting aspects that would be unnerving if they happened in real life, for instance strangers drawn to the home to commit suicide. (end of spoilers)
There’s sex and there’s gore, so I would give it a strong ‘R’ – rating, only for adults. The story built to a great climax and a good ending, not what I would have expected. Summed up, it’s a good haunted house story, not great and not a classic, but entertaining nevertheless.
Recommended for a good Halloween haunted house read.
Hi Mike – thanks for the review. You, know I’ve been reading BL short stories in Cemetery Dance for years now and I cannot, for the life of me, get into his stories. He’s a good writer, but for some reason, I can’t seem to lose myself in his stories. And, like your review above, I don’t find them consistently horrifying in any way.
It seems like modern horror aims for skeleton characters so readers can instantly fill in the details with their own life. I guess it’s supposed to help with empathy. Modern editors even tend to remove character descriptions in stories. I like to put them in to make the character a solid person. I have the same problem with The Year’s Best Horror – end of the year anthologies. I generally find that I only like one or two stories in the whole book. There is a definite disconnect with me as far as modern literary horror goes. I stopped reading Cemetery Dance a long time ago for the same reason.