Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2018
Four horror authors are invited to take part in a live-stream interview for a popular horror site. What they aren’t told is that the interview will be taking place in a said-to-be haunted farmhouse in Kansas, on Halloween night.
The first 40% was a slow build – flickering lights, glimpses of ghosts, unsettling noises and smells, a sense of foreboding. This is one of my favourite parts of a ghost story, as well as horror novels in general, when the characters know something isn’t right, that the house feels wrong, but they dismiss it, try to rationalise it – “The generators low on power”, “It’s just my imagination”, “The light’s playing tricks on me”, etc. Kudos to Scott Thomas for drawing out that part of the story, the anticipation of what’s to come was executed brilliantly. The detailed descriptions of the architecture of the house, complete with it’s bricked-up wall at the top-of-the-stairs entrance to the third floor and it’s dark, dank surroundings, and dried-up creek bed that no animal would breach definitely evoked that creepy, unsettled feeling.
The rest of the book, in particular Part Four, was a tension-filled, action-driven, hold-your-breath, race-against-time thrill, that had me zooming through the pages, eager to discover the motivation for the haunting, and whether or not any of the characters would survive it.
But, what really made this book memorable were its characters, which was a bit of a bummer since it’s a horror novel, so you know at least some (possibly all) of them have the potential to be killed off. I especially enjoyed the four horror writers, all of whom really brought something different and unique to the table, and had me emotionally invested, and terrified for their well being. I also found it cool how they were all different types of horror authors – one wrote mainstream, another wrote YA, a third wrote dark disturbing content laced with sexual violence, and last but not least, a classic horror writer, who served as inspiration to the other three.
However, as clever and unexpected as the ending was, I would have preferred the last two chapters to have gone differently. Up until then the story felt like a tribute to the type of horror written in the 70’s and 80’s, with a modern technological spin, but the final twists just didn’t fit that mould. I feel a bit ridiculous writing this, because the actual ending was better than the one I craved, and I’m sure most readers will be satisfied with it, and I was up to a point, even wile struggling to shake my disappointment. I also would’ve liked more resolution to the haunting, why it originated, but there was a solid explanation given for why this wasn’t possible.
All and all, a well above average haunted house story, that had me immersed in the macabre.