Ben Loory's Reviews > The House Next Door

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
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Nov 05, 2009

really liked it

wow, this was so close to being a really amazing book! still pretty damn good, just not... legendary good. but hey.

i love haunted house books, and that's what this is, only stripped of all the usual genre crap. there's no ancient decaying victorian, no history of ghosts and weird noises, no creepy old lady peering out through the blinds... it's a thoroughly modern, realistic, SANE and not-tongue-in-cheek account of a middle-aged couple and the events that transpire when a new house goes up next door. and bad shit starts happening to the people who move in.

there are a lot of really great scary moments, a lot of really creepy ideas. but those are spaced out amidst a very ordinary narrative about utterly convincing upper-middle-class people living in some fancy suburb, where everybody knows everybody and status and surface are everything. everything is so really, truly normal here that when the scares hit, they hit hard-- like they would in real life. it's not like stephen king (who i'm sure must LOVE this book) where he grounds us in the suburbs but everything's already twisted and weird before the twisted and weird things start happening (probably because king's so naturally twisted and weird he's incapable of writing convincingly normal, boring people). the overall effect is that the book feels totally real and therefore very fresh-- but at the same time, kind of boring sometimes, because these people and their lives and their thoughts are kind of boring. i mean, people talk about azaleas and stuff.

so it's a bit of a pros and cons situation.

mostly pros, though, with big, big kudos for conception, and major kudos for the masterfully simple prose and perfect structure. good stuff.

you wouldn't think some of the sick shit in this book would come from the same lady who wrote the rest of it. i mean she looks like jessica lange on the back cover.

although jessica lange does look half-insane.

(also, definitely coulda done without the epilogue. but that's only two pages out of 345.)
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Reading Progress

11/03/2009 page 50
13.59% "a totally grounded, non-gothic, intelligent and non-satirical bourgeois haunted house story! only in the 70s! loving it!"

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