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Starter House: A Novel

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  582 ratings  ·  141 reviews
In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home-a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 31st 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2013)
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The Shining by Stephen KingThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonA Christmas Carol by Charles DickensHeart-Shaped Box by Joe HillGhost Story by Peter Straub
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296th out of 798 books — 1,316 voters
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Community Reviews

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I was talking to a friend the other day about stupid people in ghost stories- The smart ones tend to leave the house behind- which would make for a veeeeeeeery unsatisfying, very short story...The young newlywed walked into the house- fell down the stairs, saw a ghost, and quickly limped out the door never to return. The End...So what a reader is sometimes left with is A LOT of haunted house novels about people doing reaaaaaaally dumb things. THE STARTER HOUSE- in my opinion, is one of those
I need to begin this review by admitting that I LOVE A GOOD GHOST STORY! Ghost stories are the oldest and best form of entertainment there is. Huddled around a campfire, hanging at a bar or ancient man in a cave; we told ghost stories. Right now, in the literary market, there are too few good ones to go around. What there are instead are far too many - teenage girl who is a sophomore in high school so she is so wise finds something odd in the old house and yes its a dead teenage boy and he's so ...more
Loved it. Sonja Condit is soooo good at building a sense of dread. Although very much American, Starter House had a bit of a Little Stranger vibe with just a touch of The Haunting of Hill House thrown in. I really liked how Condit layered Lucy, Eric, Ella Dean, and even Lex, causing me to continually change my perception of each character. At times I was completely on one person's side and then circumstances shifted, I got a peek behind the curtain and suddenly I had to adjust my opinion. Again ...more
I think I am going to have to stop gambling on haunted house novels. This is yet another one that fails to deliver any genuine chills - I even helped it halfway by reading it in my own starter house, with my husband out of town, at night! This debut is initially engaging - a newlywed couple with their first child on the way have purchased their first home in South Carolina. But the middle lags and the final confrontation is too fragmented and it ends with an unsatisfying conclusion. In an effort ...more
Jessica Woodbury
This easily could've been a 3 or 4-star book and I have to give it some credit since I made it all the way through to the end. But while there was lots of potential, the main characters didn't end up making a real connection with each other or the reader. The addition of another main character part way through the book muddles things somewhat as well, although those parts have the strongest writing in the book.

The mystery was strong, but the characters of Lacey and her mother Ella Dane and her h
Tara Chevrestt
Quick summary: Lacey and Eric are expecting a baby and when she is drawn to a particular house, he makes it happen.

They should have kept looking.

Seems bad things happen in this house. People fall down the stairs and die. Kids drown in the tub. Women lose their feet. Moms kill their babies. Husbands go insane. And there's this bratty little boy who appears to keep Lacey company while Eric works all day...but there's something really sinister about him. Is the house haunted? If so, what can she do
Leslie Lindsay
For debut author Sonja Condit, STARTER HOUSE is a knock-out, hands down. What starts out as a ghost story, transforms into a mystery--yet, ghosts and mysteries are often inexplicably intertwined, no?

Beautifully written, with care and detail to every word, every sentence, STARTER HOUSE is a story of a young, married couple--he's a newbie attorney and she's a 4th teacher on leave as she prepares for the birth of their first baby. Looking for a home in fictional Greeneburg, S.C. is no easy task. T
Lacey and her husband, Eric are house hunting. Lacey finds the perfect house. This house has a history, It is known as a murder house. It is evil. Everyone one that has lived here prior has moved. They all have one thing in common. All the women who lived in the house never gave birth to a child. The house feeds on them. Lacey soon realizes why when she meets Drew. Drew is a ghost in the house. He starts to get violent towards Lacey to the point that she fears for her unborn baby's life. She mus ...more
Dec 13, 2013 Kammie marked it as to-read
Shelves: first-reads
I cannot wait to read this book! I loved "The Thirteenth Tale" and just finished reading "Bellman & Black," the comparisons to these books make me even more excited to read this.
Naomi Kelsey
As a writer myself, I am loathe to 'shred' someone elses' carefully created baby. But honestly...I am angry when I encounter books like this, that are so poorly written, yet they managed to be published. The idea is interesting, but there are so many issues it's hard to know where to start.

The dialogue is probably my biggest complaint. When the heroine's husband bangs down the door of the motel she's staying in and confronts her, she says "Whaaaaat? Why?" NO ONE I have ever met or seen talks li
Hannah Fullmer
Okay, so, you know the feeling when you're reading a really, really intense book and you get incredibly annoyed when the people in your "real" life interrupt you with unimportant issues like dinner and laundry and sleep? And then, when you finally put the book down, you realize that your neck and back are sore because you have been sitting so tensely hunched up, holding your breath in suspense?
Well, that's the kind of book Starter House by Sonja Condit was for me. I loved this debut novel, which
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

Author fabulous at setting a mood. It felt dark and creepy
Fast paced, it kept me reading even thought I disliked most of the characters
Unique idea for a haunting
Good mystery kept me turning the pages just to find out what happened

The Not So Good Stuff

Disliked the main characters. Felt Eric was a self-righteous, self-involved jerk. Lacey was also just plain stupid. Sorta wished both characters had died and the baby would be born and immediately taken to a more worthwhile couple
Cat Russell  (Addicted2Heroines)
If you want a scary story about a creepy little boy and a haunted house, read The Bird Eater by Ania Ahlborn. Not this.
Stephanie Jewett
Another reviewer mentioned that ghost stories would be very short if the protagonist did what most intelligent people would do if they realized that their house was haunted by a ghost that was out to kill them and just get the h*ll out, but in this case it kind of made sense that she stayed. First of all, said ghost would apparently just follow her wherever she went (even across the country, as one former victim experienced). Secondly, having grown up practically homeless, she had a strong convi ...more
Cheryl Ann Roberts
Back in February I attended Bookmarks Moveable Book Feast. I purchased Starter House after reading the back of the book. I was accidentally fortunate enough to meet the author. She was interesting and really got me excited to read her book. Because it's a ghost story, I decided to save it and read it this month. Nothing like a good ghost story for October, right?

It's Sonja's first book, so my expectations were a little low. But I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. Or rather pleasantly sc
Alisi ☆ needs to stop starting new books ☆
I wanted to like this more but it was a mess. I think the author forgot where she was going during the middle of the book. Having Lex's POVs were annoying too, and nothing was scary.

I think she was going for The Shining type of horror novel. I mean, the ghost in the house possessed one of the family and used them to kill the others? Yeah, that's The Shining.

Another huge area of discontent (for me) was the fat phobia. It was quite distressing, to be honest. The only reason that was given, in rega
Starter House by Sonja Condit is William Morrow publication and is scheduled for release in December 2013.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Lacey and Eric are a married couple expecting their first child and looking for the perfect "Starter House".
When Lacey sees the house on Forrester Lane she thinks the house "speaks" to her. The real estate agent really tries to talk them out of buying this house and even pleads with the owner no
Thank you to William Morrow & Company for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this novel.

I saw this novel compared to The Thirteenth Tale and books by Joe Hill. That was setting the bar pretty high. The Thirteenth Tale is a gothic tour de force and in N0S4A2 Joe Hill took the most innocent and happy holiday of the year, Christmas, and made it so disturbing that I had nightmares. He has become quite the master of horror, a chip off the old block. This novel was neither gothic nor
Naked Consciousness
Intelligently written throughout, Sonja Condit's Starter House is everything a psychological thriller should be; both tense and suspenseful while maintaining a natural believability that sucks you in despite yourself; makes you believe all is safe and well, while somewhere, deep in the dark recesses of your mind, your prefrontal cortex is frantically trying to puzzle through and dissect the horror that you know is lurking behind a corner. Starter House's storyline somehow manages to be forthrigh ...more
Unsolved Mystery
Apr 07, 2015 Unsolved Mystery rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Haunted house lovers
Shelves: horror, ghosts
Lacey Miszlak thought she had found the perfect house for her family.
The most perfect house on the block.

Lacey and Eric are super excited for the upcoming arrival of their first baby.

Everything is perfect.

Things are not always what they seem.

A ghost boy dwells in this "perfect" house.
People have died here...babies have died here.

Will this "perfect" house claim more victims?
I love haunted house stories, so I was thrilled to read this.

Ummm, something was off about this read. Like when you'r
For the first few chapters of this novel, I thought the plot had been ripped off from the first season of "American Horror Story." Then it took a turn of its own. High-brow it's not, but the story of a pregnant woman who finds herself in the grips of a house's dark secrets kept me reading. If you enjoy the slightly paranormal in a creepy half-contemporary/half-gothic setting, with well-developed characters who could be your next-door neighbors, you'll enjoy "Starter House."
1.5/5 Stars

When I was in my early teens, I read a book Ghost House by Clare McNallythat scared the bejezzus out of me. In fact, I still have my copy in protective wrap and remember key parts of the book. For over 30 years, I have been looking for a ghost story to have that same effect on me. I had hoped that Starter House would be that book, but it wasn't.

There was absolutely nothing scary to this book. In fact, I found it downright humorous. The writing was superficial and overly dramatic. I wo
Kenneth Hursh
As the title indicates, the problem for soon-to-be parents Lacey and Eric Miszlak is their recently purchased first home. Seems the property has been the site of numerous child murders, a fact which the realtor, who also once lived in the house, withholds from the Miszlaks. Eric is a lawyer, but doesn’t seem to appreciate this obvious and actionable breach by the realtor. But that’s a nitpicky flaw in an otherwise very entertaining horror story.

Lacey keeps encountering a little boy, both on and
Lacey and Eric are newlyweds that have just become pregnant with their first child. Money is a bit tight but they want to find a starter home to raise their child in. Lacey has visions of her grandfather's house and when they find an old house that is for sale, she thinks right away that this might be the right house for them. Their realtor tries to convince them otherwise, saying that people have died in the house but no details beyond that. The price is too good to pass up so they take the hou ...more
I love a good ghost story, but I'm also very picky. It has to at least make me uncomfortable. It can't rely on obvious tricks. It has to be well-written. It has to meet the standard of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House - a very high bar. Most ghost stories just can't quite get there. Starter House, however, gets very close.

Lacey is pregnant and she and her husband, Eric, have purchased their dream house - the place where they will start their lives together and start their family. Yes
I liked this book and I didn't.

Like the title implies, this is a story about a couple who purchase their first home. Let me say now that in my opinion Sonja Condit is a very capable writer. However, it is also my opinion that some parts of her story were better than others.
The wife is Lacey. She is in the first trimester of pregnancy with her first child. She discovers her new house is haunted and keeps it from her husband, as she is the one who wanted a home and ended up chosing a haunted one o
I loved the cover! It’s the window of the “starter house”, and gives the impression that someone is looking out the window…guarding the house. In order to give my review, I need to include 2 disclosures.

First, I absolutely HATE, yes, hate, when books are compared to other masterpieces. I can understand there are books that may be similar, evoke the same emotions, and possibly have a similar storyline….but unless the book is a rewrite-it should be a stand-alone and not compared to other books. Pe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Old houses and hauntings seem to be something that goes hand in hand these days. It is a new norm that society has accepted and newer generations have grown to expect. It is no longer a freakish accident that stands in the corner of every town, but the treasured exhibit during Halloween season. This story is about another old home with its’ own ghost. A ghost so twisted that it eats unborn babies and kills the mothers in turn. It is a spirit that can drift in a home like the wind and appear like ...more
Review originally posted: Traveling With T

This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Starter House

Lacey and Eric, a young married couple, are looking for a house. Their 2 will becoming 3 in a short few months and both Lacey and Eric desire a place of their own to raise their child, in a neighborhood that has good schools and a nice look. Lacey, though, wants a house with character- not a square cookie-cutter house- a house with character. When Lacey sees this
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