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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Titles Can Be The Hardest Part...
The premise of this book is that a married couple and their young daughter move into a surprisingly affordable apartment in New York. Almost from the day they move in, odd things begin to happen, most of which are only apparent to the wife, Susan. The story is told from her point of view. Susan is an aspiring artist who obtained a law degree, apparently at the urgings...
Published on August 3, 2011 by I. Zawilski

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and Bad
I like a good thriller, and although I didn't have huge hopes for this one from the title, it was intriguing. I picked it up and thought I'd read a little while before going to sleep. This was at ten. At one, I'm still reading. It helped that it had short chapters, and each one ends with a little cliffhanger, so you want to keep reading. But it was very much like a bad B...
Published on September 4, 2011 by Kathy O'Gorman


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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Titles Can Be The Hardest Part..., August 3, 2011
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The premise of this book is that a married couple and their young daughter move into a surprisingly affordable apartment in New York. Almost from the day they move in, odd things begin to happen, most of which are only apparent to the wife, Susan. The story is told from her point of view. Susan is an aspiring artist who obtained a law degree, apparently at the urgings of her family. She had been employed in a law firm prior to the beginning of the story, but she and her husband agreed she would quit in order to pursue her artistic dreams. Her husband, Alex, put aside his own artistic ambitions to operate a catalog photography business with a partner, in order to support the family. The business is struggling and there is stress in the marriage, especially after the expensive move.

Most of the strange activity in the apartment seems to be centered in a small "bonus" room that Susan uses as an art studio. The sole artwork she produces is a portrait of one of the previous tenants, people she only knows only from a photograph she found. These tenants were a couple who, according to the elderly landlady, vanished without paying their rent. The landlady, who lives downstairs, is accommodating and friendly. The almost equally elderly "handyman" is by turns kindly, threatening, and a bit dull; although he tells Susan he retired as assistant principal at a local school.

Susan comes to believe that the apartment is infested with bedbugs and that she has been bitten. Her husband and her daughter do not see or experience anything. Even when the highly recommended, and slightly oddball, exterminator finds nothing after an extensive examination, Susan continues to insist that the bugs are there. (I need to note somewhere, and it might as well be here, that I didn't find Susan to be an especially sympathetic character, even before her alarming personality change.) The bedbug obsession grows and Susan's grip on reality loosens until the ultimate confrontation with evil near the end of the book.

The first half of this novel was a real page turner, with great atmosphere. Somewhere around the middle, the wheels started to come off. It's hard to explain why I think so, but I just didn't enjoy the second half nearly as much. It seemed forced. Also, in a novel like this, I would expect to be left guessing at the end as to what was real and what was imaginary, or supernatural. This one spelled most of it out. When the mystery was revealed, it rang false to me. I can't explain why without massive spoilers, and I'm not sure I could articulate it anyway.

So, not a terrible book. The author definitely can write. It's a moderately short book (I finished it in an afternoon) and worth a read.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy and Gripping.... Don't Read This In Bed!, September 6, 2011
By 
Indolent (Ohio, USA/London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
A young couple, Susan and Alex Wendt, and their toddler daughter Emma move into a new and seemingly perfect apartment in Brooklyn, and life is good. Or at least, life should be good, but things very quickly start to take a turn for the creepy and the icky. Something is definitely not right, but... what is it?

The story is set against a backdrop of a New York City in the grip of a serious bedbug problem. That would be the real New York City, by the way. Here in Cincinnati, Ohio, we have the dubious honor of being the "bedbug capital of the US", and so I know only too well what it's like seemingly never to go a day without hearing or reading some story about how the situation is getting worse, how the hotels, the libraries, the schools, have become breeding grounds and hideouts for the disgusting, blood-sucking little parasites. It's enough to make even the most well-balanced person a little bit paranoid.

Thing is, this book's central character, Susan, shows signs right from the beginning of maybe being a little unbalanced and paranoid, as well as not an especially easy character to like. She's introduced as a former lawyer who gave up working eighteen months prior to the start of the story in order to "concentrate on her art", employing the services of a nanny six hours a day to look after her daughter while she paints, although she hasn't actually got around to doing any painting yet. Susan seems to pretty much loathe the nanny, a pleasant, easygoing graduate student whose character she makes plenty of unpleasant and unsubstantiated judgements about. At one point Susan arrives home from one of her forays into the neighborhood to find Emma bawling inconsolably because of the traumatic experience of having an old black man speak to her. Susan, rational human being that she is, is furious with the nanny for allowing her charge to be put in such mortal peril, and sends her home for the day in disgrace, chalking this incident up among the poor girl's many other "offenses". She is also constantly anxious that her husband, Alex, is secretly angry with and resentful of her for giving up work only to become a slacker when she has the luxury of being able to paint full-time. Alex himself is a photographer and Susan recognizes that he would love the opportunity to go back to taking "real" photos, were it not for the wife and daughter he has to support singlehandedly in their expensive new digs. It seems Alex is worried about the couple's finances, so what does Susan do? Oh yeah, she throws in his face that if the worst comes to the worst she can be working and earning three times what he is by the following week. Nice, huh?

OK, so I think we've established that Susan isn't a character I felt any great warmth towards, and also that she may be a little on the hysterical and flaky side. But that's half the point, I think. Within days of moving into their new Brooklyn brownstone, the Wendts start to suspect they may have a bedbug problem. But do they? Or is it something more? The story starts to get progressively darker and weirder as it shifts from an ordinary enough tale of family tribulations to something more sinister by far, but the reader is left wondering what's real, what's not real, and what's an exaggeration on the part of the neurotic Susan, whose sanity seems to be unravelling further with every page turn.

There's not really much more that I can say without venturing into spoiler territory, so I will wrap it up here, but I'll finish by saying that this is a very well-written and well-paced book, with a creeping sense of unease that gradually builds into outright horror. I pretty much read the entire thing in bed last night between the hours of midnight and 6am, night owl that I am. In retrospect, I would definitely advise against this approach, as if there is one place you do NOT want to read this book, it is in your bed. Now excuse me while I just go burn all my sheets. I may just have to sleep on the couch tonight.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy, Crawly, Chilling, Thrilling, August 2, 2011
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great read. Especially if you are a fan of books where an innocent couple moves into a too good to be true home and the husband works while the wife stays home and unpacks and takes care of the kids and discovers strange happenings. I love them. But there is something for everyone in this dark novel especially readers who enjoy a well written thriller with a hint of horror.

The Wendts, Alex and Susan, find the perfect brownstone in Brooklyn from a Craigslist ad. It's owned by a somewhat charming elderly landlady named Andrea who takes a liking to them. The couple decide to move into the home where their toddler Emma will finally have a room of her own. Alex is a photographer who owns a business, and his wife, Susan is an artist. She plans on painting in the small well-lit bonus room. Things are exceptionally great at first. They have a sitter who watches Emma during the day and Susan runs errands and fixes up the place while Alex works and helps out the best he can at home and the family enjoys the idyllic location which is close to shopping and historical New York landmarks.

There is also talk of bedbugs. People seem to dread the unwanted insects and they are a horror to get out of the house. Rumor has it that hotels have closed for fumigation and people have moved to rid themselves of the pests. Extermination can work, but sometimes, the bedbugs come back. Susan learns more about the dreaded infestations on the internet when she suspects that she has been bitten. She believes the culprit is a bedbug, and things begin to go a little off kilter.

A recommended exterminator gives the place a clean bill of health, but it doesn't help Susan's fears. She becomes consumed with the thought of bugs, and she starts to have horrible dreams. Also mysterious is the couple who used to own the apartment who left without paying their last month's rent. Susan finds a mysterious picture of the couple stashed away in a window sil. The handyman, Louis, tells her about them.

This is a fun read. You'll probably stay up late, if you dare, into the night because you won't be able to put it down. It will be a great book to read when the chilly weather of Autumn rolls in. This book is smooth, polished, and very well done. It's a creepy escape that you're going to love.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and Bad, September 4, 2011
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like a good thriller, and although I didn't have huge hopes for this one from the title, it was intriguing. I picked it up and thought I'd read a little while before going to sleep. This was at ten. At one, I'm still reading. It helped that it had short chapters, and each one ends with a little cliffhanger, so you want to keep reading. But it was very much like a bad B horror movie without much horror, although it did have it's moments. I actually enjoyed the first half more, and then had to force myself to finish it because the last half seemed sort of repetitive at times.
This young woman convinces her husband that they need to make a move to another apt at the very time his business is struggling and they can't afford it. Then she slowly is convinced they made a horrible mistake, but move again? When they couldn't afford the first move? It puts her in an "I'm trapped here" situation. Some of the action is predictable. So if this review sounds like I'm undecided on whether I liked this or not, I'll say this. It's not great fiction, but it's good enough to read in bed on a stormy night and keep your interest. Especially if one of your major creepy phobias is any kind of creepy crawlers and creepy landladies.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A cheap thrill that degrades at the end, this is B-grade horror but can be a fun waste of time. Not recommended, October 18, 2011
By 
Juushika (Oregon, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
Susan and her family feel blessed to find the perfect home within their budget, but something isn't right: the previous tenants left too quickly, there's problems with the house, and Susan begins to suspect they have a bedbug infestation--or worse. Bedbugs is ridiculous B-grade horror for better and worse. Its premise has potential, and Winters initially achieves a creeping, crawling, albeit transparent atmosphere of dread. It's not art but it is entertainment, consumable and thoughtless, scratching the itch for distraction and a horror story. But as the book progresses, Winters pulls out all the stops. He trades insidious for blatant and skin-crawling for violent, discarding everything in the way of originality and providing the sort of concrete explanation which dismisses the paranoia that proceeds it (and invalidates any potential for psychological horror). There's enough momentum to carry the book to the end, but the conclusions lets it down. It hardly matters, however: this is a few hours of distraction, cheap entertainment, ridiculous, gross, preying on an insect phobia with all the refinement of a when-insects-attack B movie. We picked up this book for two dollars, and I read it while killing an entire day on the train. Under those circumstances, it was a harmless, amusing, intentional waste of time. But under no circumstances can I actually recommend it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, October 24, 2011
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This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
I bought this book based on the reviews that told me I'd be squirming in my bed all night. This book had no such impact on me. It was boring and obvious. The downspiral into madness Susan supposedly took, happened way too fast for it to be believable at all. The end was so obvious it made it painful to finish the book. I was happy with the ending. I mean, the end. When the book was over, and I didn't have to read it any more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BEDBUGS, November 8, 2011
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
Bedbugs by Ben H Winters

I was a little hesitant about reading this because I wasn't sure how
bedbugs could be creepy but I was proven wrong.

I was immediately drawn into this story. What captivated me most were the
characters.

Susan Wendt, a stay at home mom to her daughter Emma, decided that her
family needed a bigger place to live. After looking at a few locations they
settle on an apartment with more space and a great monthly payment. What
seems like a dream come true soon becomes an aberration after Susan
discovers what she thinks are bedbugs in the apartment. Susan is likeable even though her fears make her so vulnerable that we question her ability to know reality from what is in her mind yet she doesn't waiver about her allegations and stays strong in trying to keep her family safe.

Alex, Susan's husband, works a lot to provide for the increase in rent. He
is very supportive of Susan. He balances out Susan's rash personality by being the voice of calm.

Andrea the landlady is an elderly widower who aims to please. Andrea needs
help maintaining the property so she hires her friend Louis. Andrea is most interesting because there is that something you can't put your finger on and she provides the mystery element in this suspense novel.

These casts of characters all have their attributes which adds momentum to
the storyline.

The plot moved along at a fast pace with some twists, some you don't see coming and that really makes this
a pretty good suspense thriller. I really enjoyed reading Bedbugs and I
look forward to Ben Winters' future releases.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One of the most unlikable characters, March 16, 2014
By 
This review is from: Bedbugs (Kindle Edition)
I don't mind an unlikable character, if i am suppose to dislike them. In bedbugs we are suppose to feel for Susan, but how? She's obnoxious, complains constantly, bullies her husband and neglects her supposed work as an artist - all before her problems start so that I was hoping she'd be swallowed whole by a bedbug. Had she been a likeable woman, I'd have been rooting for her but she had no where to fall. She was already a mess. The daughter is no better and Alex the husband isn't fleshed out enough for me to get involved with him. This book is seriously lacking in character and I was disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A creeptacular story that'll make your skin crawl!, January 10, 2012
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
Bedbugs is a creepy little thriller set in New York, where we follow the story of Susan Wendt. She and her husband, Alex, are on the hunt for a new (not to mention bigger) apartment. When Susan falls in love with the apartment they view at 56 Cranberry Street (and Alex with the low rent) - they just have to take it.

In almost no time at all, strange things begin happening. Strange 'ping' noises coming from seemingly everywhere and nowhere, odd happenings in Susan's art studio, and unidentified spots on her pillow.

A bedbug epidemic of sorts has been going around the city. Susan's mind automatically jumps to this conclusion, only no one else seems to see what she sees. Is she just stressed? Is she going crazy? Either way, Susan begins to research bedbugs and it soon becomes an all-consuming obsession.

Eventually, Susan can't even distinguish delusion from reality, and begins to believe that the badbugs are after her specifically, and that it may be more than just your average infestation.

Bedbugs was a seriously creepy. It sent shivers up my spine. You just never knew whether there was a haunting, whether Susan was simply delusional, or if it was some sort of monster breed of bedbugs. Honestly, my one complaint would be that even in the end, I still have no idea exactly what truly caused the strange infestation. I mean, there was definitely a conclusion to the novel, but it was not clear if the happenings were paranormal or not. I guess it's up to the reader to come to that conclusion on their own.

Alex was a likable character, so was he and Susan's daughter Emma. Just a charming little girl! Their kooky landlady, Andrea, was a weird one, as was the handyman. Susan herself was not my favorite character. There were times when I felt that she was just a selfish, selfish woman! Not to mention paranoid about a heck of a lot more than the possibility of paranormal bedbugs. Ugh!

This book was a quick read at just under 260 pages. I nice little slice of psychological horror. It kept me on the edge of my seat. The plot was paced out nicely. The freaky tidbits came in just the right increments. I definitely recommend this to readers who would enjoy a nice little horror novel that doesn't have a lot of fluff in it. It's straight to the point, and I also really loved the fact that it wasn't predictable. You really could never be sure what was going to happen. Surprise is always good. ^-^ Predictability is no fun!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like books that get in your head, and in the case of Bedbugs, get under skin., October 25, 2011
This review is from: Bedbugs (Paperback)
My Synopsis: Meet Susan and Alex Wendt, and their adorable daughter, Emma, a typical family living in Brooklyn, NY. Susan has quit her job to pursue her love of art, and has become obsessed with moving her perfect family out of their small apartment. Lucky for them, the perfect opportunity presents itself, and the family finds themselves living in their dream apartment.

Too bad that dream is squished like the big, juicy bedbug Susan finds on her pillow. And so the fun begins. Susan begins to freak out about a bug infestation that her husband and daughter have yet to encounter. She calls in an exterminator, who gives the apartment a clean bill of health, yet Susan falls deeper into bed bug Hell.

My interest in the book: Hello! Psychological thrillers are so fun to read. They make some of the best horror reads because of what they suggest. They plant a seed in our mind that has us questioning our own sanity. I like that look-over-your-shoulder-and-under-your-bed type of story. I like books that get in your head, and in the case of Bedbugs, get under skin.

Characters: Susan is a pretty normal woman who morphs into someone unrecognizable by her family. Alex is a hardworking man who really cares for his family, but finds it hard to handle Susan's "issues" along with the stress of being the lone bread winner. Sweet Emma is a great addition to the story and I'm glad the author decided to include a child in the mix. An eccentric landlady, a shady handyman, a nanny, and a rough and tumble exterminator round out the cast of characters.

Worldbuilding: The world building for this book is pretty straightforward, as it is not set in a fantasy world, but in good ole NYC. Many of us may agree that NYC has its own set of fantasy elements, but the Wendts live in typical family-oriented neighborhood surrounded by shops, eateries and parks. The real world building takes places inside the apartment, where Susan slowly loses her grip on reality and the apartment warps into something straight out of a horror movie.

Lasting Impressions: Honestly, this book was great. I did find the ending a little hokey, but it did not detract from the terror and insanity that seeped from the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed the slow descent into madness and personally, would never, ever want to go through what this woman experienced...real, imagined or otherwise! In my opinion, when an author leaves you thinking about the book days after you've finished it (or in the case of Bedbugs, feeling the book days after), I think it's safe to say that they did their job, and well.
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Bedbugs
Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters
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