Michelle Rever's Reviews > The House Eaters

The House Eaters by Aaron Polson
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Jul 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: rar, scary
Read in June, 2011

(Review originally published at Red Adept Reviews.)

Overall: 3 3/4 Stars

A solid effort that didn't fully work for me. None of the issues were fatal flaws, and I'm sure the things that bothered me will be no big deal to others.

Plot/Storyline: 3 Stars

I enjoyed several elements here, and read along with no desires to "ditch," but there were still a handful of things which took away from my overall enjoyment. I felt like there were a few needed scenes missing between people, three secondary storylines that aren't wrapped up so much as their resolutions are quickly explained in a conversation, the narrator - unfortunately - was probably my 5th favorite character, until the last ten percent I wasn't particular scared, I don't feel like the myth the story was based around was fully integrated into the overall story, other than I think the house was the embodiment of a mythical spirit. Maybe.

This was a good story with a lot of the elements horror fans will enjoy. There was a YA sensibility so no heavy gore, which I suppose might interest some and lose others. We have a small town, a haunted house, the hell of high school, the bonds of new friendship, a love interest, Indian folklore, and a mystery.

Characters: 4 Stars

As mentioned, Nick - the narrator wasn't really my favorite character. At times, he seemed passive, not acting when he should, not pursuing logical avenues, other times doing things for what seemed to be plot reasons alone. He admits he hasn't cracked a book for years, but is in an AP English class (with his father as the teacher) and seems to have a pretty good vocabulary under the circumstances. Did he pick this up by osmosis? Interestingly enough, some of the words he used I would make the argument were incorrect. He says his father has a diatribe about oral literature and the importance of oral tradition, but a diatribe is against something, not for it. He describes walls as blasé when that's not something walls are so much as something you feel about them or toward them. I wonder if this is a deliberate character trait. I spent way too long wondering this - I should get a hobby, like reading. (Technically, in this book, it's quite possible the walls could feel any number of emotions. Kidding.) Anyhow, I still rooted for Nick and wanted things to work out and all the feelings that are appropriate to feel toward a protagonist...

However, I was much more interested in his sister, Tabby. I wanted to read more about her, but Nick didn't talk to her even when it was clear she possessed vital information. She had a history of what was diagnosed as mental illness, but what was clearly telepathy and perhaps astral projection. Her brother talks about being protective of her, and he does help her at vital moments, but also leaves her to her own devices most of the time. It felt like there should have been one scene more between the two, at least, but to elaborate would go into spoilers. More than that, I would have loved a couple scenes from her point of view...
Nick's love interest is Sarah, a spirited, intelligent, young woman. I can't help but admit I would have liked some time in her head too. Then there's Gage, one of Nick's two friends, who is fascinated with ghosts because of a loss he suffered and a need to make sense of it all, and Saul, a level-headed sweetheart of a kid.

I thought all these characters could carry a book, or part of one, which says something good about Mr. Polson's ability to write characters. I cared about Tabby and Sarah, in particular, and I believe it was more than I'm a female and relating to the girls, but rather what how well they were crafted.

Nick's parents, while there and part of one of the secondary storylines, felt nearly non-existent in any real sense other than to say "be careful" and to emit the signs of a marriage in distress. They barely had dialogue. Their storyline was one of the ones wrapped up with a couple lines at the end, as if it was something that needed to be handled. Strangely absent, even when they were there, and I'm left with no solid impression of them.

There's the school hottie. Nick foreshadows within paragraphs of introducing her that he thought he'd fall for her, but not so much. She exists to flirt with him and bring about the wrath of her football player on and off again boyfriend. Standard issue. Lastly, there's a friend of the football player who had potential to be interesting, but there wasn't enough time.

I suppose I felt that the relationships in the book were important, could have been powerhouse, but needed a little bit to flesh them out and make me care that extra bit.

Writing Style: 4 Stars

The dialogue did the job and some passages were particularly good. There were moments in the beginning when I felt the descriptions were too predictable, but that clearly got better, and might have been because our narrator, Nick, wasn't familiar with the haunted house genre until Sarah lent him some books! (Did I mention that I love Sarah?) Solid mechanics.

Editing:

I only noticed a few small things, but not enough to be a real distraction.
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03/21/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Mike Lambert This is a *perfect* review, Michelle, and summed up many of the same feelings that I had about this book -- thank you for taking the time to composed it.


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