Ammie, Come Home

Ammie, Come Home - Barbara Michaels This book has always frightened me.

Although Barbara Michaels generally does gothic novels, I am rarely actually scared of anything she writes. I get the occasional shiver, but this is probably the only one of her novels I've read (and I've read most of them at this point) that I would classify as "horror" in addition to "gothic."

The build-up is kind of slow, but in a satisfying way. You get to learn a decent amount about the characters and the background before things start to really get going, though there is a sense of eeriness very early on.

I liked the whole cast, though Pat occasionally rubbed me the wrong way by being a little too bull-headed to bear. It's very Barbara Michaels, though, in that, and given he gets shouted down when he gets to be too much I don't really mind him.

Watching the four main characters attempt to puzzle things out as the circumstances in the house get worse and worse was alternately fascinating and terrifying. Something is terribly wrong, and it involves a family secret and paranormal activity, and I just eat this stuff up. Seeing them attempt to explain things in a non-paranormal manner felt realistic, since straight acceptance in this type of novel has always bothered me. As a whole, they protested just enough to feel appropriate, although of course that is a matter of taste.

I really enjoyed the wrap-up and the ending, though I can't seem to remember if I saw it coming the first time I read it or not (this is a re-read, and one of many). I'm guessing no, though I was pretty young the first time I read it.

Things feel a little bit dated, but just enough to add to the atmosphere. I'm not sure what the experience of reading it when it first came out (back in 1968) would be, but now there is a faint level of charm over the concerns and the culture of the period that I find interesting in its own right on top of the story and the characters.

This is probably my favorite Barbara Michaels book, and she is one of my most consistently high-rated authors. If you're interested in the "modern" gothic and just in being creeped out in general, this is pretty highly recommended.