Not since reading Dean R. Kooontz's aptly named INTENSITY have I encountered such a compression of terror as Michaelbrent offers unwary readers in this novel. Now, Michaelbrent is my son, so I am bound to be biased, but that didn't stop me from becoming so absorbed in the final pages of THE HAUNTED that I could almost feel my Kindle growing warmer beneath my fingers as I sped from screen to screen in a flurry to find out what was actually happening.
The set-up is, perhaps, nothing new. A young married couple--the wife pregnant with their first child--moves into a new house that, from what we have learned from the "Prologue," may or may not be haunted. Immediately, strange things begin happening. Their moving van starts and stops without any visible cause. Boxes seem to move mysteriously from room to room. A box-cutter apparently teleports across the kitchen. Little things like that.
But the events do not remain little and soon become life-threatening as grey ghost-like faces appear at windows and a shadowy figure appears in the surrounding woods. As the various apparitions move closer and closer...well, you'll have to read The Haunted to find out more.
The novel is told with such predecessors as Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE clearly in mind, especially in the tone and pacing of the "Prologue," but Michaelbrent rapidly asserts control of his materials and moves them into unanticipated directions. His writing is crisp, often fragmentary as befits the harried, breathless nature of his narrative. He does, however, all readers one fairly long moment of near respite in the middle of the book...or at least, it seems so.
Nothing in the world of THE HAUNTED, however, is quite what it seems.
Father or not, as an authority on Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and horror writing in general, I thoroughly enjoyed THE HAUNTED. Highly recommended.