Aaaaand we’re back to horror stories.
Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh?
The House Next Door is the tale of Colquitt Kennedy and her husband Walter, a very WASPy, fairly average couple. They live in an upscale neighborhood in the South, the kind of place where everyone knows each other, and most know one another’s business, though they’re usually too polite to mention it. One day, someone buys the long-empty lot next to the Kennedys and begins to build a new house. As you may have inferred from the title of the book, the house has some issues.
This isn’t really a gory tale–there are no madmen with chainsaws or bleeding walls or be-tentacled monstrosities. Saw IV it is not. This is a story of anticipation, anxiety, fear, and destruction. Colquitt figures out pretty quickly that something isn’t right, then must struggle for the length of the book to decide what she might be able to do about it, if anything.
I’m a little torn about this book. On one hand, there is a lot of great description, the main character’s voice is really likable, and there are some genuinely spooky bits–I was annoyed every time I had to put the book down. On the other hand, there were also a few things that I really didn’t like. First, there was a bit too much resistance from the secondary characters. It’s a common flaw in horror books–the scientist insisting that zombies can’t possibly exist as one shambles up behind her, the man is telling the curiously pale fellow who never shows his teeth when he smiles that vampires are an old wives’ tale–but there comes a point where you just want the supporting characters to GET ON BOARD ALREADY AND LET’S MOVE ON! The other thing I didn’t really like was that although there was some vague hint at the end of the book about the source of the trouble, it wasn’t really explained. Some people like that vagueness, since it allows them to fill in their own explanations. I don’t. One of my favorite parts of horror books is when the characters do the research and figure out exactly what’s happening, and that didn’t really occur here.
On the whole, this book was still more good than bad, and it’s a great atmospheric horror story.