on January 17, 2018
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Supernatural
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It's a home invasion from beyond the grave in this novel of unrelenting terror from the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of PRESSURE, DWELLER, and WOLF HUNT.
It doesn't seem like the perfect house, but screw it, it's good enough to rent for a year. Unfortunately for Boyd, Adeline, and their two young daughters, it's immediately clear that they chose the wrong place.
The nightmare begins with violent coughs and headaches. Food starts to rot almost as soon as they take it inside. A pet tarantula goes missing. Some family members begin to exhibit creepy behavior.
Then the ghosts arrive, and all Hell breaks loose...
SICK HOUSE, by Jeff Strand is a pulse pounding horror novel with some extremely unique, gory scenes. Another thing that makes this story stand out among other “haunted house” themed books is Strand’s own darkly comedic touch interlaced throughout. While this helps to lighten the mood in places, the tension is still felt to be amping up the further the reader progresses.
Boyd Gardner and his family–wife, Adeline, and daughters Paige and Naomi–are moving to a new town due to his job placement. While the move is a definite step up for them, they decide to rent a house for the first year.
“Though it wasn’t as if they were suddenly fabulously wealthy monocle-wearing socialites, the lives of the Gardners were about to get a lot better.”
Even in the beginning, you can feel the undercurrent of “wrongness” once they settle into their newly rented house. It is all-pervasive, lingering even when you’re reading the most innocuous of scenes. At first, it’s only small things, but with the rapid pacing and culmination of other minor events, it is quickly apparent that this is not exactly their “dream house“.
“What if it was built on an ancient burial ground where people from India were horribly murdered?”
“Then we should probably move . . . “
Of course, there is a gruesome subplot worked in that really gets your attention, in a much more overtly horrific manner. Along with a woman named Gina, who likes to play with the bones of deceased animals . . .
“. . . The quickly rotting fruit was bizarre, but this was crossing the line into flat-out disturbing . . . “
Personally, I can’t get enough of Strand’s writing style. His fast, fluid style, and sarcasm-laced comments make you feel as though you’re witnessing a scene in person, no matter how outlandish or paralyzing the subject material. These are the kind of books that go by too quickly. When I reach the end, it’s almost with regret that the journey is over.
In SICK HOUSE, the apparitions are something much more than your average, garden-variety ghosts. These are twisted, sadistic, and gruesome beings.
You won’t like the games they want to play.
” . . . never, ever considered that . . . demise might come at the hands of a homicidal ghost . . . “
The Gardners are instantly likable characters, which makes their plight all the more an urgent, compulsive read. When things get bad, you’ll feel as though you’re right in the middle of it with them–although merely an impotent observer.
“. . . I thought my sanity was doing pretty well, all things considered. Oh, look, my hand is a snake.”
Overall, this novel had all of the key components that I expect in a great story: believable characters, a fantastic, tense atmosphere, and a malevolent opposition to contend with. This is a book that is sure to be on my list of top reads of the year, as well as one to be re-read in the future.