What if the boogeyman has been inside the house the whole time?
Published: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 345 (Hardcover)
Series: N/A – Standlone
But if we lock the door and hide the keys, we’re trapped in here. And I no longer think it’s the danger on the outside we need to worry about.
Sarah and Patrick are happy. But after her mother’s death, Sarah spirals into depression and overdoses on sleeping pills. While Sarah claims it was an accident, her teenage children aren’t so sure. Patrick decides they all need a fresh start and he knows just the place, since the idyllic family home where he was raised has recently come up for sale. There’s only one catch: for the past fifteen years, it has become infamous as the “Murder House”, standing empty after a family was stabbed to death within its walls.
Patrick believes they can bring the house back to its former glory, so Sarah, uprooted from everything she knows, pours her energy into painting, gardening, and giving the rotting old structure the warmth of home. But with locals hinting that the house is haunted, the news that the murderer has been paroled, strange writing on the walls, and creepy “gifts” arriving on the doorstep at odd hours, Sarah can’t shake the feeling that something just isn’t right. Not with the house, not with the town, or even with her own, loving husband–whose stories about his perfect childhood suddenly aren’t adding up. Can Sarah uncover the secrets of the Murder House before another family is destroyed?
Trigger Warning: child abuse, suicide, mental illness.
First and foremost, thank you to Grand Central Publishing for sending a copy of this my way! It was included in the Forever blogger email and as soon as I read the synopsis I couldn’t help but request it, I will never not be into spooky thrillers.
I have to admit that I went into this thinking it was more along the lines of a ghost story, I guess, and while it was creepy I feel like there were a lot of aspects that conflicted with one another. I’m going to go deeper here, obviously, but if you wanted a short little summary of my thoughts, it’s that this was a solid thriller with some spooky elements, but I have some questions in the end.
Okay, let’s deep dive.
The way this novel starts out, there are certainly some issues that took place before the telling of this story. You don’t get all the info on this, but it appears Sarah, the main character here, suffered a mental breakdown after the death of her mother. I think she even tried to commit suicide before the novel starts, but I know for certain there’s another suicide scare later in the beginning. Basically this book is heavy heavy heavy on the family dynamics; not just like dysfunctional families, but down right dark family issues. It’s these issues that take place prior that have a big impact on the story as it moves along. Patrick, Sarah’s husband, insists that buying his old childhood home, the site of a grisly family murder, will be the fresh start the family needs. Thus ensues a longggg trip down crazy lane.
So as soon as they move into the house then spooky things start happening, the family breaks apart, and secrets come to light. One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the fact that seemingly everyone has secrets, like even Sarah, our protagonist here, has some secrets and her mental illness almost makes it hard to believe what’s happening. To me, it wasn’t the plot that was lacking, it was just the fact that I had a lot of questions and concerns after the story ended. Like, the author never touches on the ghost aspects of the book; there are cold spots, toys pop up out of nowhere, knocking, and doors opening. Is the house haunted? Maybe, but I wish I had a little more concrete ghost action. Also, we never get real answers about the murders that took place in the house. I want answers. Part of what makes a thriller good is the unraveling of the story.
I wasn’t a big fan of the characters in this story, and I think that’s part of why I didn’t get into it the way I thought I would. Sarah got on my nerves. I hated Patrick with a passion. And the kids felt like little assholes to me. I wasn’t rooting for any of them, really, and I just kept reading to know what was going on. There also wasn’t a lot of character growth in this except for the fact that everyone was breaking down mentally. It wasn’t the characters that was propelling the story, that’s for sure.
Also, this reminded me a lot of this Lifetime movie I watched once where this house was evil and was basically making everyone that lived there a murderer and it was wacky. That’s kind of what this reminded me of. What it the house that was evil? The families that lived there? Another thing we never get closure on.
To me, this was a pretty solid novel in terms of plot and writing, it was just too many questions and too little connection for me. I enjoyed unraveling this mystery but I wish I had gotten more.