Why I read it: I found it on Net Galley last year (eek) and it sounded great.
Who I’d recommend it to: Honestly? Very few people.
My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
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At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.
Meh. If I had to sum up my feelings about this book in a single word, it would be, “meh.” This was honestly one of the most disappointing reads I’ve had in a while.
I’ll start with the good, though.
This book was undoubtedly an homage to the big names of horror, probably both classic and modern. As someone who really likes horror, both on the page and on the screen, I could appreciate that.
At times, it was clear that Scott Thomas is capable of writing very well, and potentially delivering some scares, so I’m not writing him off just yet.
This book would probably make a great movie, and I’m thinking I would like the movie version more.
That’s pretty much all I actually liked about this book, and I feel weird about giving it such a low rating because it seems to be well-loved, in general.
The first 30% or so are seriously over-written. The remainder of the book is a little better, but I stand by what I said once (when I was only about halfway through it): it could probably lose 100 pages and nothing about the story would change. With horror, or any other spooky-ish book, I tend to call this “Stephen King Syndrome.” So if you like how wordy King can be, you probably won’t be bothered by that aspect. One additional note about it, though, is that some things were repeated way too often. Certain phrases, or recounting the same memory or whatever. Eventually, I just started skimming and skipping over pages.
Nothing really happens until close to the halfway point. Then, I finally had hope of reading a truly creepy story, but it lost steam really quickly. I don’t want to say much about what happened, so I don’t spoil anything for someone planning to read this, but there was a shift in the type of horror around 70% and I just rolled my eyes and thought, “Of course.” I’d seen it coming, but had hoped it wasn’t going to go there.
Two things frustrated me most about this book.
The first was the one (main) female character. At first, I thought I was going to like her. And eventually I did, but less in a, “Wow, this guy wrote a decent female character, hurrah!” kind of way, and more in the way that I wish I could take her away from him and give her to a woman author. The creepiest thing about this book was how T.C. Moore was written at times, and if she could come to life and speak for herself, I’m guessing she would verbally rip Thomas a new one. Or maybe even literally do it. I get it. She’s a tough, badass bitch, in a field dominated by men. I. GET. IT. I have no issues with unlikable female characters (I want more of them!). I have no issues with crass female characters. But Moore was just so over the top she became unbelievable, which is really disappointing because if Thomas had just dialed it back a bit (and maybe not mentioned her breasts and underwear and how she has a “pagan ritual”–which I have other issues with–of writing naked) it would have been much better to read about her.
The second thing was the lack of explanation. I still have no clue what caused the things that happened in the book. We’re given some vague ideas, but nothing is really settled and actually explained. I guess that’s supposed to make it creepier, but it just irritates me. And then there were the vines. I won’t elaborate on that part.
None of the characters really stood out to me. It’s like they should have had more depth, but just didn’t. I honestly can barely even remember their names already, even though (as I’m typing this) I just finished the book a half hour ago. I think the idea for them was to make them almost like archetypes of big-name horror authors, without actually making them into those authors. But that didn’t quite work for me, in the end, and so I never really cared about any of them. I just wanted the book to end so I could move on.
I feel like this book should have been a better experience for me, but I spent almost all of it bored and/or skimming over all the repetitive bits so I could finally finish it. I wanted to like it, but it was just…fine. Not really good, not horrible, just fine. I saw the ending coming from pretty much the beginning, and it was also just fine. Nothing new or surprising there.
Would I recommend it? Not really. But, if you love Stephen King, maybe Dean Koontz, and others like them, you might like this more than I did.
I received a free copy for review from Net Galley