Customer Reviews: House of Dead Trees
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on October 21, 2012
Very graphic, gratuitous violence. Storyline had potential, but I didn't feel it lived up to my expectations. Some charactors didn't seem to have any purpose or, at least, their purpose wasn't explained. Disappointed in the end.
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on August 16, 2014
A group of nearly-jaded ghost hunters travel to Forester House, a locale reputed to have a brutal past and plenty of supernatural activity. Forester House is built on the land previously occupied by the Onemara, or the "Dreaming People." The Onemara propitiated the dark elemental of their land, first with sky burials, and later with forcible human sacrifice. The two timelines are bound by the land in which they play out, and Duncan sets the scene for it to be believable when the two stories intersect. All of this is good, solid horror. Very good, in fact. The setting, language, and portrayal of evil are all well-executed, and a lot of fun for a dark fiction aficionado to read.

Unfortunately, there is more story in House of Dead Trees. As so often happens with horror, the "extras" weaken the story. In particular, the details about the personal lives of the ghost hunters are ultimately extraneous. We learn of a marriage on the rocks; about an abusive relationship; learn one woman relives the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. The back stories are lurid, disturbing, and compelling. I cared about how the issues would be resolved. When none of that mattered to the final outcome of any character, and when the novel ended with those scenarios largely unresolved, I was frustrated.

House of Dead Trees is an absorbing read, despite its shortcomings. The scenes of pure haunting in the Forester House and the Onemara story are excellent. The prose is full of unexpectedly beautiful turns of phrase, which is not a given in the horror genre. I would give House of Dead Trees a two and a half for those unresolved story lines, but I'm bumping it to a solid three for the quality of writing.
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on January 13, 2015
I love a good ghost story, especially with a new twist. At first I thought there was too much sexual shenanigans taking away from the story. I was wrong. I'm not one to explain the plot, I'll just say kudos to excellent character building. For a story with so much going on and quite a few personalities, I was never lost. I felt attached to every one of them, or I'll say I understood them very well. Francis especially, bravo!
Spoiler Alert:
My only 'Why do we need to know this?' was with the action under the dining room table. What was with the non-circumcised vs circumcised thing? Hmm.

I gave it five stars because I couldn't put it down and was invested in these ghost hunters.
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on January 9, 2015
There's like 4 maybe 5 scenes with sexual content. And the foul language? Totally appropriate to what's going on for the most part. No, I'm guessing the hate this book is getting is because one of the main cast members is a gay man. And yes the gay man has sex! Omg! I've seen many reviewers get called out for their homophobia and, while it's nice seeing a decline in homophobic reviews, it seems these people are now basically making stuff up. There's (spoilers) a short gay sex scene within the first 30 pages. Anyone who only got that far and quit and the had the audacity to write a review? Yeah, I think I can guess their problem. Anyway, good book! Took a star of cause the ending could have been better but I'd recommend this one.
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on September 29, 2014
Thought the story well written, paced and thoroughly scary. Grammar was fine by me and I did understand the website fan's deliberate bad grammar to illustrate the ignorance of the masses. Heck I probably am one. Would recommend and read another by this author.
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on October 10, 2012
I'd never heard of Mr. Redux before. This book just blew me out of the water. I felt like I did reading Hell House: scared. Genuinely scared. I cared about all of the characters and their plights. Very well written it drew me in and I finished it in two days (wish it had taken longer). Maybe a SEQUEL or PREQUEL?!!! Please!!! i'll be reading this again after reading HOLE and whatever else he has written I can find time to read. The short: if you love ghosts, supernatural and (in this day and age it is really hard) being truly SCARED pick this up. You'll thank yourself
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on November 2, 2013
The House of Dead Trees had potential. It started out really well and then failed to deliver. I enjoy a good haunted house tale, and with a lot of good reviews on here, I decided to give it a shot. I thought the characters were interesting and you did get into their heads, thus giving the reader some background. Being a fan of the horror genre, this lead me to believe that we could foreshadow how the "house" would use their pasts and secrets to torment them. This is what sort of happened, but like a lot of things in this book, I thought it could have been done better. The setting is unique and I thought the whole cursed Indian background was a great change of pace. Even the sordid history of the house was fun and creepy. But once our paranormal team is in the house and haunts begin, what could have been a fun ride, just fell flat. As other reviews have said, this book is pretty graphic. Most of the characters meet with cruel and violent ends. And there was really no scares or tension. The book actually feels like a teenage slasher movie, once a character gets up and goes somewhere by themselves, we know their pretty much going to die. Add some sex scenes and that's pretty much what you get. I like my haunted house stories to have some creeps and chills. Even if your going to kill off most of your cast, toy with them a bit, describe the various ghosts or strange doings that happen. What's that out of the corner of your eye? Is someone or something whispering to you from the dark? That sort of detail is lacking. The book was well written and it's pretty fast paced. It had so many great ideas, but just didn't come together for me.
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on January 15, 2015
I've read most of Joseph's books if not all and I have yet to give one less than five stars. The folks that can't handle the sex and the gore are usually the ones that end up giving less. To me a good book is one that I finish in a couple of days which means I enjoyed it and kept going back to see what happens next. I hated to see some of the characters bite the big one and I wish some of them hadn't but hey it's not your average Scooby and the gang adventure and things can get nasty in the "real" world.
It's a scary romp through a real haunted house, and the flashbacks to a different time is a nice touch. Joseph has a knack for making you feel like you're in the story and easily hooks you into turning the pages with his writing style. Sure there is some gore and sex but to me that adds the right spice to the alphabet soup that's being served up. Looking forward to possible sequel with some new faces in the ghost hunting group.
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on January 11, 2015
House of Dead Trees is more than a haunted house story, in that the enemy is more than spirits of those who had passed but an entity in itself. The prologue, which begins the background of the entity was dull and I almost chose not to continue reading. What I liked about the book was the characters. Each have their own life problems before the "Ghost Scouts" begin their investigation of what is reported to be one of the most haunted houses in the country. The house itself is not very different from the houses written about by Shirley Jackson and Richard Matheson, right down to the house having all kinds of angles in it. What I didn't care for was the crude "bathroom" humor between two of characters. One of the characters has celiac disease which is a very serious disease; and the jokes about this character's problem are very inappropriate.
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on March 14, 2014
This was an immensely fast and enjoyable read. I played with giving it less stars because it was so damned similar to The Legend of Hell House lol Maybe I missed the fact that it was supposed to be a bit of a parody, but I enjoyed this just the same.
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