I blitzed through this short and creepy novella in no time at all. Stories involving haunted houses are not exactly short on the ground, and this one did little to reinvent the genre, but was an entertaining, fun ride never the less.
Alice and her two kids, Madison and Ralf, suffer an awful tragedy when Jamie, husband and father, hangs himself in the family home. Still getting over his suicide, Alice learns that Jamie was in debt to quite a hefty sum with a particularly nasty loan shark. This man threatens Alice that if he doesn’t receive his money soon, none of them are safe.
But luck appears to be changing for Alice, as she finds out from a solicitor that she has inherited the picturesque Hope House from her grandmother. Aww, an old house in the woods in the middle of nowhere, how lovely. And it seems like perfect timing, as the gangsters are getting more money-hungry by the minute.
Of course, things don’t turn out too great for the family.
Since Jamie’s death, Alice’s brother, Gary has taken the mantle as man-guardian, if you will. He’s been letting them stay at his place while Alice tries to get things back on track. But instead of being happy that Alice has inherited Hope House, he becomes very suspicious of the whole affair.
So off they pop. But Hope House isn’t the idyllic country setting they hoped it would be.
There’s something definitely a little off about this old house. The descriptions of the remote location and unkempt nature of the property were more than a little unnerving. The house seemed ‘alive’ somehow, and that it knew it had new residents. And it really did seem like there was no escape once they got there.
Ralf, always one for the more morbid things in life, has heard stories about the place being haunted. And no sooner than they arrive, weird stuff begins to happen.
There are strange sounds from upstairs, tempers between Alice and Gary seem to reach breaking point where they actually come to blows. The family are visited by Agatha, a strange old ‘neighbour’ who warns them to not venture upstairs. Locked rooms with strange relics adorning the doors, and lines of salt alert them to the fact that things are not quite what they seem.
Agatha has answers to the many questions the family have about the place. Most of them make them wish they hadn’t have asked. There’s murder and abuse gone down inside them there walls.
Inheriting a haunted house is nothing new, but the fear of the loan shark that motivated Alice to ignore all these ghostly presences was refreshing and original.
Soon the real history of Hope House begins to manifest. That would be bad enough, but add to that the mobsters hot on their heels, you’ve got yourself a mighty showdown.
Like I say, there’s nothing new about a family inheriting a haunted house, but if you’re after a short creepy read then look no further.
Categories: book review