This House...

This House... - Benjamin Kane Ethridge

I want to start by saying that I am not joking, the title of my post is the actual title of the book, ellipsis and all.

 

This looked a bit quirky, but hey, you say "haunted house" and I'm there, even when I have a few reservations regarding aliens and such. I'm going to have to revise this policy, I think.

 

This wasn't the worst thing I've ever read. I think there was a good story, possibly, in there somewhere, but it was buried under a bunch of strange stylistic decisions and what appeared to be conflicting desires to both imitate and stand-out. In the end, it certainly managed unique, but I'm not really feeling like that was a good thing.

 

The switching between characters was just not well-handled. They did not have unique enough voices, and it didn't add anything to the story. If anything, it made it more convoluted and difficult to follow, and honestly, it wasn't fun to be in some of these people's heads. I do love multiple viewpoint stories, but it does need to be handled carefully. Why am I seeing the same thing from multiple viewpoints without really getting anything worthwhile added? I just saw what happened, I don't need to see it again from another viewpoint. A few of them did genuinely add information that would not otherwise have been available, though whether said information was interesting, useful, or enjoyable is a whole other question.

 

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the author read a decent chunk of Stephen King. The language use reminds me a bit of him (though decidedly not him at his best), and the plot felt a little bit The Tommyknockers, though that is not my favorite novel of his and this made decidedly less sense. Yes, it made less sense than The Tommyknockers. I have a lot of trouble believing that these characters all talked this way all the time. I don't care about swearing in my books (seriously, I don't--I attempt to be professional in my reviews, but I can swear like a sailor when need be), but the sheer amount of it, as well as other obscenities, out of the mouth and mind of every single character in this book just felt off. I have trouble believing that there can be a group of people who manage to think and talk like this so consistently and yet get by in actual reality. Maybe I'm naïve, admittedly, but I refuse to believe a lot of what was said was not added for sheer shock factor and not because it was appropriate for the character.

 

The plot was sort of all over the place. I think it was supposed to be, on some level, given the central character and his issues, but this took it to an entirely new level. On the plus side, I was rarely able to guess what was going to happen. On the negative...well, it all happened. And I'm not sure why, and I didn't care.

 

The side stories of the other characters were not terribly compelling. The female characters suffered badly from stereotyping: we have "the mom" and "the slut", and I really can't come up with anything else to add to those descriptors unless I was to put the word "crazy" in front of the latter. Admittedly, I could probably safely put that in front of a descriptor of every character in the novel, but Cassie definitely stood out.

 

The "reveal" felt like a brainstorming session. I could almost hear the characters themselves going "Well what if it is this? No? How about this?" If you want to do the double-revelation shocking twist, go for it (I fully support and love this), but give the reader time to grasp one crazy revelation before throwing out another one that replaces it. I suppose in the end it made sense on some level, sort of, but it was badly handled throughout the book if that was the route it was going, and it was not a satisfying resolution given the way the book was written.

 

I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to think of pretty much any part of the ending, except it did pull a bit of a Stephen King (again, though, not one of his better tricks) and a deus ex machine on top of that, which was just awkward. Add to that the odd "resolution" for a main character (which seems like it might even be a set-up for some kind of sequel) and I ended up closing my Kindle and just looking at it like it had betrayed me somehow. (We have since made up, of course.)

 

This felt like a "kitchen sink" book--too much was thrown together and stirred to the point where I can't even tell you which genre this is, except "really messed up". Genre-bending is great. "I have literally no clue what was going on or how to classify this" is a lot harder of a sell. I can't recommend this with a clear conscious, even to horror aficionados, because I am not even sure that is what it was.

 

This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.