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Gethsemane Hall Paperback – August 11, 2012
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“With Gethsemane Hall, Winnipeg writer David Annadale has created that rarest of books: a genuinely chilling horror novel. And a fresh take on the hoary old haunted house novel, no less...Gethsemane Hall is a slowly tightening noose of a novel, the carefully measured tension beginning with the pedestrian stuff of bad dreams and mysterious sounds in the dark, and building steadily until finally exploding in an imaginative Grand Guignol release.” (Quill & Quire 2012-07-01)
“Gethsemane Hall is a cerebral sort of horror, briefly hinting at what’s to come with only visceral moments of violence and blood to punctuate the unsettling tone that hangs over each word. The tension spikes suddenly at appropriate, organic moments that never feel forced or tacked on out of necessity…Even as you read the text, there is no obvious solution to the mystery. This is not a predictable, expository story nor is it a simple mystery to unravel. The questions continue to build as the story goes on in conjunction with the growth, or deconstruction, of the characters and comes to what is simply a disturbingly satisfying conclusion. Like all good horror, Gethsemane Hall plays tricks on the mind as you read before it decides to let you walk away.” (2012-08-13)
“Fans of literary horror have been waiting for a haunted-house story this smart for a long time.” (Winnipeg Free Press 2012-08-18)
"As ghost hunters and debunkers explore the hall, braving cold spots, unearthly screams, and a shared nightmare, it is a hidden staircase that lures readers and characters both into the belly of the beast that is Gethsemane Hall. As they spiral down together, Annandale ascribes reptilian, malevolent presence to mere steps, leading ultimatley to the terror that is the real dark power beneath Gethsemane Hall".(Prairie Books Now)
“A creepy thriller with a devastating conclusion. Highly recommended.”(Rue Morgue horror magazine)
“Compelling, a little frightening and amazingly inventive, a new and powerful take on the old haunted house story…Annandale has created a house that lives and breathes and constantly shows new and terrifying facets of itself as the tension builds.”(Star Phoenix)
“Annandale has taken the cliche and turned it into a high concept, and lived up to his ambition by nailing the execution. His characters are fully formed and carefully assembled into a complex puzzle of disparate convictions. Everyone in the Hall knows how the world works, even as the Hall itself works to unravel their ironclad truths. The story is deliberately paced, an inexorable crawl from ignorance to terrible enlightenment. Under Annandale's pen, nightfall is once again a time to be feared, while the safety of daylight is slowly bled away, until the familiar comfort of the sun is nothing but a cruel joke.”(McNallyRobinson.com)
About the Author
David Annandale is the author of Crown Fire, Kornukopia, and The Valedictorians, thrillers featuring rogue warrior Jen Blaylock. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies of horror fiction. He teaches literature and film at the University of Manitoba and lives in Winnipeg.
Top customer reviews
To a veteran of the splatter punk years of horror, I want to declare that Annandale has done it right and still scared the hell out of me. Or into me, I am still not sure.
Then there’s Meacham, a CIA agent who has to clean up the mess after a fellow CIA agent and hobbyist ghost hunter killed himself at Gethsemane Hall. The whole CIA angle didn’t really work. Meacham doesn’t have the characteristics one would suspect of a CIA agent, and honestly, the whole book could’ve done without the CIA angle, which gives it more of a conspiracy-vibe than a ghost story. There’s also a magician, although God knows why Meacham decided to bring her along – except maybe to debunk tricks? Although, she already had a renowned scientist for that who had debunked several “ghost” phenomena. Then there’s a team of ghost hunters desperate to believe, Gray’s best friend who wants to bring him back on the path of God, and a whole town filled with people who have heard the “call” of Gethsemane Hall before.
This book is heavy on religion, in fact it’s one of the focus points. Gray loses his faith, and the haunting has a religious angle too that I don’t want to get into because I don’t want to spoil anything. I didn’t mind the heavy focus on religion, but just mentioning it here because I’m sure it’ll annoy some people.
There are also some extremely gorey scenes. I dont mind gore, but it’s rare to see it in a haunted house story – I did like that, though, as it was quite unique.
The story is enjoyable, and there was a lot of suspense, granted. Unfortunately the build-up ended in a huge let-down of gigantic proportions: the ending is rushed (quite a contradiction considering the rest of the book is slow), it doesn’t make much sense, a lot of things are left unexplained (for example: why did this horror/ghost decide to start tormenting everyone now, when there had been people living in Gethsemane Hall for years), and the ending was very dissapointing.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult books I’ve ever had to review. I immensly enjoyed the plot, up until three quarters when it all went downhill. Gay was an engaging character, and I could stomach Meacham, but I disliked most of the other characters – some of them lacked depth, others were so stereotypical they annoyed me. The writing was very compelling at times, and at other times, so overwritten I wanted to eat up the paper.
The story is good, and it’s an okay book, but it could’ve been excellent had the ending not been so rushed, more things been explained, and some of the characters had been cut, or had been less stereotypical. It didn’t scare me, but it did give me some shivers, so the suspense was well done at least. Read at your own peril.