From the American Book Award winner and author of "one of the most talked about debuts in the horror field since the advent of Stephen King" (Publishers Weekly) comes a terrifying story of supernatural suspense, as a woman searches for the inherited power that can save her hometown from evil forces.
Tananarive Due's first three novels gained her legions of dedicated fans who recognize a true master of the genre. Now she returns with her best yet – a chilling story set in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. The house Angela Toussaint's late grandmother owned is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But is it?
Angela hoped her grandmother's famous "healing magic" could save her failing marriage while she and her family lived in the old house the summer of 2001. Instead, an unexpected tragedy ripped Angela's family apart.
Now, two years later, Angela is moving past her grief and taking control of her life as a talent agent in Los Angeles, and she is finally ready to revisit the rural house she loved so much as a child. Back in Sacajawea, Angela realizes she hasn't been the only one to suffer a shocking loss. Since she left, there have been more senseless tragedies, and Angela wonders if they are related somehow. Could the events be linked to a terrifying entity Angela's grandmother battled in 1929? Did her teenage son, Corey, reawaken something that should have been left sleeping?
With the help of Myles Fisher, her high school boyfriend, and clues from beyond the grave, Angela races to solve a deadly puzzle that has followed her family for generations. She must summon her own hidden gifts to face the timeless adversary stalking her in her grandmother's house – and in the Washington woods.
Why isn't this a huge bestseller? As good as any popular horror novel, The Good House has great characters, twisty plot, very high creepy factor, great mythology, and stellar writing. I've seen people recommend this book for fans of Stephen King, and I'd agree. I'd also say it's great for people who don't particularly care for King, but who dabble in horror.
This isn't light or breezy, it's very dark, but I absolutely loved it.
Among a group I read about on Goodreads for great scary-house Halloween books, The Good House certainly lived up to that billing and then some. It is a fine horror novel, with wonderful, well-developed characters, especially the feminine half of this family. Grandma Marie and her granddaughter Angela are powerful spiritual guides for voodoo magic, but Grandma used her power for ill intent in the past and a demon has come to exact revenge on the family and only Angela can save it and her small town from this curse.
The Good House is the repository of the good and the evil that has taken hold. Some of the images of the horror are quite chilling, especially one involving a tower of leaves that I won't describe, but left me unsettled. Also the demon or "baka" and his abilities are grotesque, he is able to "ride" a person, effectively taking them over, until that person has vanished and nothing is left but the baka.
One thing that was very intriguing is that the characters are multi-faceted; Tariq, Angela's ex-husband and father to her only child Corey, is a troubled figure. He is trying to overcome childhood abuse, but has a temper that is barely leashed and has come close to hitting Angela and has called her a bitch in front of Corey before. He also has a drug habit, even though he holds down a high-ranking, professional job. Also, Corey is not a perfect son. He mirrors his father's treatment of his mother, in being a whiny, aggressive teenager. At one point, I thought why is Angela trying so hard to save this family, when father and son seemed barely worth it.
There is a lovely twist at the end that I didn't see coming and ties everything up quite well.
“The Good House” by Tananarive Due is a slow-build kind of novel that builds up into a solid haunted house novel that checks off most of the boxes you’re looking for when it comes to this kind of horror. If you want to read about evil spirits, voodoo, and some pretty memorable characters and events, you’ll genuinely enjoy this one.
This was the first novel I’ve ever read by Due as I love her writing style. All the characters are well done, places across Sacajawea were very descriptive, and of course, the center of this, the house itself, were all great. There is a ton of creepy horror here and even though I won’t ruin it for you, there are plenty of moments that will definitely creep you out.
I also loved all the Stephen King novel references as that was a nice touch as he’s my all-time favorite author. Besides all that, I did feel this novel could have been trimmed down just a bit more as some of the dialogue and situations were a bit repetitive. It starts off slow, builds up nicely, then starts to level out as I kept waiting for more horror and big events to happen. Once they eventually did, I felt it took a bit too long to get there.
The different layers to the overall story arc were all brilliantly written. I enjoyed how the chapters kept going back and forth from the past to the present with major events happening and then reading about what happened to fill in the important gaps. Again, it’s extremely hard to write this in a way that doesn’t feel confusing or annoying. I give much respect to Due for writing this to where it just all makes sense, especially with a wild, tension-filled ending that was fantastic.
Overall, I give “The Good House” a 4/5. It’s a memorable horror novel with the only knock on it being I felt this could have probably been cut by 100 pages and still deliver an amazing reading experience. Either way, I genuinely enjoyed it and would recommend this to anyone looking for a good haunted house novel with a voodoo twist.
The blurb for this one sounded so interesting, and the line at the library for this book was so long that I thought it would definitely be the spooky ghost story I had been looking for.
Unfortunately it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Angela Toussaint is returning to the house of a terrible tragedy at her fourth of July party many years ago where her son Corey dies. The house has been deemed The Good House, partially because of its original owners, the Goodes and the fact that it was the only one left standing after a mudslide leveled the town of Sacajawea. However, when she returns strange happenings cause her to feel that there is something sinister remaining at The Good House.
This is quite a large book. I struggled to get into it as it started off very slow, and didn't find its footing to the 60% mark. I was expecting a creepy ghost story. Instead I received a lot of foreshadowing, that came off as cheesy, not ominous or spooky.
Angela Toussaint's Fourth of July party began well enough, but no one would remember that because of the way it would end. That's what everyone would talk about later. The way it ended.
The first guests arrived at 6:30 sharp, on Angela's heels. They would have less than an hour to sample Angel's 7-Up punch, and they would never taste Tariq's marinated beef ribs.
It was also her last lingering instance of tranquility in Sacajawea.
It was then that my journey to damnation began.
I get it! Something bad is going to happen. Please stop beating me over the head with it.
Then there is Angela. A character that I couldn't identify with, or make myself care about. A woman who is constantly thinking about how amazing her "first time" with her ex was and how much she still loved him.
I wanted to like this more. I really did. But it needed a serious trim by 100-200 pages.
Despite all its flaws, the lesson here is a valuable one: don't mess around with magic, and I enjoyed learning about the traditions and beliefs of those that practice voodoo. I just wish it hadn't left so many questions at the end, and had focused a little more on the story and less about the main character's sex drive.
4.5 Stars This was a slow burning, character focused horror novel with some wonderful fantastical elements. While this could be classified as a haunted house story, this one was so much more about the characters than the physical property. I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of witchy magic, which is not something I see enough in horror. This was a fairly long novel, yet it didn't feel bloated. I did prefer certain perspectives over others, but the stayed invested throughout the entire story. I also appreciated that the author wrote this as an ownvoices story which depicted so many of the nuanced aspects of the black experience in America. I personally loved the ending (although I understand why others may not), but it made me love the book even more.
The Good House is a multi-generational horror story about a family curse. Though magic and voodoo are expertly weaved throughout the tale, it is grounded in the things that every human can relate to - loss, anger, grief, friendship, love, and dysfunctional family dynamics.
Well, just think of a forest floor after a wildfire’s put out. The flames are gone, the ones you can see, but the ground’s still hot because it’s smoldering underneath, buried. A poke could set it off to roaring again.
It is the kind of book that will never fall out of relevancy. I would go so far as to say it is quite simply a modern day classic.
I just finished reading The Good House by Tananarive Due and my heart is so full. This book has skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite reads in 2023. I guess it goes without saying I'm giving it five stars and would give it more if I could.
What a heartfelt novel about family, love, community, tradition, and consequences. Angela's family home, The Good House, has a complicated history with Angela's grandmother, Marie, at the heart of it. Angela returns every summer with her son, Corey, to try to connect with him in the home where she spent summers with her grandmother when she was a child.
The Good House weaves together three timelines - the historic timeline when Marie first came to the house; a summer with Angela and Corey when tragedy strikes; and years later, when Angela attempts to pick up the pieces of her past. All three storylines are rich with magic, spells, and demons. The story was compelling and fast paced - and so full of emotion. My heart absolutely broke for Angela several times. She's such a strong character!
I could go on and on (and on) about this book. But it would be better if you were to read it instead. Be prepared for plenty of suspense and a few creepy moments that try to take up residence in your head. I had a few creepy dreams because of this book! Like I said at the start of this review, I'm giving The Good House five spirited stars out of five.
This is one of those books that I'm always afraid I won't be able to articulate its brilliance. This is the second book I've read by Due, and once again I was hooked from almost the very first page. There's something about her writing that makes you feel that your reading something important. You're reading a book that will stand the test of time and enchant readers years to come. This book was written 16 years ago, and it reads just like a book that was written today. And I actually can't believe it took me this many years to discover Due. 16 years is shameful! Sincerely, I've discovered so many women who write horror recently who are just killing it. And Due is definitely one of those amazing women.
This book is almost 500 pages, and it just seems to fly by as you're reading it. There is so much going on here, and I love how Due ties the past to the present. The Good House has stood for many years, but at one point in its history something bad happened there. And now the house is cursed.
I absolutely adore Due's characters. Angela Toussaint is the main protagonist, and I fell in love with her character almost immediately. She's a strong and resourceful woman, and she will do anything for her family and the people she loves. Family is just one of the many issues that Due tackles. This book is also about loss and grief, marriage, heritage, and communication. Honestly, communication is an obstacle in so many books. If the characters had just stopped and discussed things with each other, often the terrible things that happen to them actually never would. That's something that Angela definitely experiences.
This book is suspenseful, and heartbreaking, and creepy, and uplifting and so many other things. Angel, her grandmother, and the Good House are all going to stay with me for a long time. This is the kind of book that you see on the shelf and remember with fondness. I definitely will have to read it again in the future.
Two good friends of mine and I regularly do a buddy read where we'll read a female horror author and Tananarive Due's The Good House was my contribution to these reads. I was constantly hearing it is a great book and thus had it on my radar for quite some time.
Well, it isn't enough to say that it is a good book, I found the story of Angela, who, having lost her son and divorced her husband, returns to the house of her grandmother Marie Toussaint, is so abysmally frightening that I am genuinely astonished why it's not up there on the top of genre classics, amongst the Kings and Straubs and Campbells. It is that good.
I have to admit that I was a little fooled by the title, thinking this a traditional haunted house story, but nothing is as expected here. It is useful to say that I know next to nothing about Voodoo and West African/Caribean religions and even though Due mentions in her afterword that she is no expert on the subject matter, I find that hard to believe because of the confidence and mastery she shows in dealing with it. She also adds a list of books that could be useful for those interested.
In this world there were so many notions completely new to me; take for instance the notion of "possession" which doesn't necessarily mean something bad - a god being beside you, protecting you. But when they turn against you the results are so terrifying that I really needed to take the book out of my bedroom because I was scared to sleep in the same room with it.
I really enjoyed the character Angela and especially, and that might be weird to mention here, the descriptions of her emotional life and the best sex scenes I have read in a book, without all the unrealistic and over the top expectations that are often put upon women and their emotional lives. Both experiences Angela had were described as different aspects of sex, were like in real life and had a symbolic meaning too; the lovemaking with her ex-husband Tariq full of foreboding of something bad coming up, but with Myles very nice. And of course, that wasn't all to her; she had lots of agency and determination and multiple facets as a mother, as a black woman, as a lover, as an agent, as a friend... I really thought this was successful character building.
As much as I enjoyed Angela's point of view, I found the flashbacks of Angela's son Corey and his interactions with local boy Sean super amusing and refreshing! The two of them meeting and on the surface disliking each other but still being intrigued, all the stereotypes that stand between them, the little jabs they take at each other made me smile, loved that!
All of that against the setting of the American small town Sacajaewa, a town with its own dark past, its weaknesses, its evils; racism, greed, gossiping, but also its good sides like friendship, results in a unique blend of West African Gods meet small town horror. I loved that uniqueness of this book and would recommend it to absolutely everyone who wants to have an original fright experience, and it was frightening, alright!
I like to read horror during October, and I’ve been meaning to catch up with Due since I read her stellar story collection Ghost Summer in 2015. I’m sad I waited so long! The Good House is simply one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read. It’s thick and complex enough to satisfy fans of big, fat horror writers like Stephen King. There’s a unique and well-built mythology around the supernatural happenings in the book that won’t leave you rolling your eyes at the end. And the characters are rich and well-drawn, making it all the more difficult when so many bad things start happening to them. There are many bad things and they aren’t pretty. This is not a novel about gore or violence, but there are so many deeply tragic happenings that it may be too intense for some readers. As Due isn’t as well known as she should be, you may have a tricky time locating this book. Request it from your library if they don’t have it! And you can also check out the audio, like I did, which is available on Audible.
The Good House is a horror story spanning generations of the Toussaint family and their home. The family has a history of healing and mysterious vodun practices, or maybe they're just extremely lucky. Take, for example, a mud slide that destroyed every home in their part of town, except theirs.
"The mud's recent wrath had left their two-story house untouched, but sprays of buckshot fired at the house during cowardly moments, usually at night, had pocked and splintered the old door. The mere sight of the damaged door had always made her angry, and Marie Toussaint no longer trusted herself when she was angry." pg 10, ebook.
Sacajawea, the town where the Toussaints live, is small. Everyone knows each other and have long memories.
"Aside from the handful of vacationers who frequented the town's two popular B&Bs, most people in Sacajawea had lived here for generations, earning hourly wages in the mills in Longview or taking down trees in the woods. And even if Sacajawea had been a more sometimey place, the rules would have been different for Angela, or anyone else who was kin to Marie Toussaint." pgs 25-26, ebook.
Why is the Toussaint home called "the Good House"?
"...this house was built in 1907 by the town pharmacist, Elijah Goode. He chose this place because he said the land felt 'blessed beyond all description,' or in any case that's what he wrote to his brother in Boston." pg 30
After a tragic Fourth of July party, Angela Toussaint, the granddaughter of Marie Toussaint, thinks her family home may be mislabeled.
What I enjoyed most about The Good House is the author Tananarive Due wrote an epic horror story around a family with characters I cared about. This wasn't just a thrill-a-minute short story. Getting to know the residents of Sacajawea and the Toussaint family was a treat. Then, when things started to get scary, I was completely hooked.
This is a horror story for readers who enjoy a slow reveal and an extremely satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.
Me llevó un buen rato leer este libro, pero al final valió la pena. Lo vi en una lista que recomendaba novelas parecidas a la película Hereditary de Ari Aster. Aunque, en efecto, esta historia trata sobre un linaje que está sufriendo las consecuencias de una maldición ocasionada por entes sobrenaturales, diría que la vibra es totalmente distinta a lo que vemos en la película de Aster. Una historia que brinca en el tiempo para presentarnos a Angela Tousssaint, su hijo Corey y su abuela Marie y su linaje marcado por la santería: Papá Legba, los bakas, Oshun... todos están presentes aquí. Al mismo tiempo nos presenta el conflicto de una familia afroamericana que vive en un pueblo predominantemente blanco. Creo que el tema con el que me quedo es el aprender a escuchar a la gente que queremos, aprender a perdonar y (aunque suene a autoayuda esotérica) hacer las paces con tus ancestros.
After a period of time following a family tragedy, Angela returns to her Gramma Marie's home in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.
The story is told over different timelines and multiple perspectives. It features a fantastic cast of characters, a compelling story and some very effective creepiness. There is also some sex and violence thrown in for good measure, all of it well written. This was a thoroughly compelling read and such a richly detailed and many layered story that I couldn't tear myself away from.
There are shades of Stephen King here, specifically Pet Sematary, The Shining and It, although this is absolutely Due's own story. My previous experience with Due's writing is her debut novel The Between and while I loved that too I think The Good House is a more accomplished story and it was interesting to see some similar themes crop up in both.
This book was shaping up to be a 5 star read for me but by the end I must admit I was slightly let down. Unfortunately on a few occasions things felt a bit too convenient and that they were happening a certain way or at a certain time to further the plot. And the main reason
I still loved the rest of the book and would absolutely still recommend it. Also, I'll never look at a pile of leaves the same way again O_o
In ‘The Good House,’ Tananarive Due, capitalizes on the element of fear, beginning with a super scary vignette occurring in 1929 when some men show up at Marie Toussaint’s house with a sixteen-year-old girl on the verge of death. They are begging for help. Marie is a healer, but do her powers come solely from herbs and teas? Her common-law husband, Red John, tells her that the healing will come at a price. Seventy-two years later, in 2001, her great-grandson, Corey finds Grandma Marie’s book of magic. But, he doesn’t read it all. He skips over the cleansings and the rituals for safety and goes straight for a spell that will bring him something he wants, a spell for lost things. In the course of Grandma Marie’s days, she’s offended Papa Legba, the gatekeeper between the world of humans and spirits, leaving him upset with something she did. Papa Legba was a protector, so when Corey steps over the threshold into the spirit world, he’s unprotected. When tragedy strikes, it’s up to Marie’s granddaughter, Corey’s mother, to step up, but she doesn’t even understand that what’s gone awry has anything to do with magic. The scariest part is Corey’s vulnerability. His lack of knowledge in this world leaves him at great risk and Due shows his exposure with great impact.
I’m engaged with the characters from the outset. Due draws me right in. Most of the story will take place in 2001 and a couple of years after that. Angela Toussaint has inherited her Grandmother Marie’s big house in the town of Sacajawea, Washington. She’s a clever, hard-working lawyer, focused on her career. Divorced from Tariq Hill, a pro football player, she’s allowed Corey to make the decision to live with his Dad. Now, the three of them are at ‘The Good House’ for a summer reunion. Due rachets up the suspense in chapter after chapter with action that surprises me. Her foreshadowing leaves me on pins and needles. In the first paragraph of chapter one, Angela Toussaint is throwing a Fourth of July party that’s going well, but the only thing anyone will ever remember about that party is the way it ends. Of course, I want to know, how does the party end?
The house is a major character in the novel, and so well depicted on the book cover. With twenty-one stone steps “steeply set apart,” a huge walnut tree close by, and a circular attic window, the house sits atop a hill, grand, imposing, and menacing. It’s the largest house in town. The original owner, the town’s pharmacist, left the house to Marie Toussaint, his colored housekeeper, who becomes more to him than just a housekeeper. Due does not shy away from race relations in 1929 or in the 2000s. In the 2000s, Angela, Tariq, and Corey are three of only four black people that are in Sacajawea at the time of the story. Corey is sensitive to the name calling and racial slurs of his peers in the small town. The young people, save neighbor Sean, are unaccepting. I feel like Due chose a town much like Stephen King’s settings in Maine, where people are everyday folks; but for the black people to be such a huge minority in this town, is there a message in that?
In Tananarive Due’s acknowledgments, she gives a nod to nonfiction books she's read about vodou. Her writing deals with these spirits in a credible fashion, giving it more interest and panache. Interspersed throughout are also prayers to the Christian God and Jesus. In desperation, one calls wherever they might expect to find help. The ending is emotional and satisfying. A great read!
Tananarive Due is one of my favorite writers. I fell in love with her “Living Blood” series over ten years ago, and on occasion (as with this title) have strayed to some of her other works. The Good House is classified as “horror, and a terrifying story of supernatural suspense.” There wasn’t much horror in this book, so let’s go with supernatural suspense.
In a league of her own, I don’t believe Ms. Due could write a book that I would not enjoy. She is simply gifted at what she does. Her knack for incorporating history, traditions originating from Africa, and the occult, are some of the things that draw me into her books.
The Good House is the story of the descendents of Marie Toussaint, a High Priestess of sorts, who made her way from Louisiana, to Sacajawea, Washington in the early 1900’s. Known for her special gifts, she upsets the spirits when she decides to cure a woman who has been possessed. The spirits curse her and her family, but in the year the curse would be removed (some 70+ years later) her great-grandson discovers information that soon turns the quiet town on its heels.
The story develops at a steady pace, although there were moments when the detail was a little weighty and I was anxious for her to move the story along. I loved how scenes were told and replayed from different perspectives, allowing information to be revealed at the precise moment it was needed. Character development was on point, as always, with Ms. Due's style of writing. I also loved the symbolism of Marie Toussaints love of the house and the land it sat on, and how those thinkgs manifested into the evil spirits would she would need to destroy in order to keep her linage in tact.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed The Good House, and the majority of true Due fans will; I was a little let down by the ending. Not that it was a bad ending, I was just expecting more (or maybe something different), which may be typical after being totally immersed in a good book that must eventually come to an end.
Tracy L. Darity is the author of He Loves Me He Loves Me Not! and Love...Like Snow in Florida on a Hot Summer Day. For more information, please visit www.TracyLDarity.com
A majestically crafted, terrifying horror novel with incredibly real characters. One summer in Angela's grandmother's old house in the Pacific Northwest, she doesn't realize her son Corey has found her grandmother's book of vodou spells, and reawakened a horrifying demon.
Two years after, following Corey's suicide in the very same house, Angela returns and finally starts to unravel what happened and put things right. Chilling reimagined vodou, a narrative that flips back and forth in time, characters deeply flawed but deeply empathetic.
This is a truly incredible, immersive read--with dark themes so tread with caution if needed. The end brought tears to my eyes. Most of the rest left me afraid to keep reading by myself in the dark. Highly recommended. I am mad this book isn't more well known! It is just begging for a film adaptation.
I purchased this book awhile ago solely based on the author who I love and the price. It was on sale for $9.00. But it sat on my bookshelf a long while. Maybe a year? Well that is not the important part of this review. I started reading this mega paperback book (496 pages) and I could not move very fast. *whisper* It was my fear of big books. (Something about them seem so daunting and I just stop.) So this time I purchased the audiobook from Audible.com to help me out. Now on to the review.... I had no idea what to except from this story. I didn't know how scary Tananarive Due was as a scary book writer (a la Stephen King) or if she was scary at all. But I have to say... she got me a few times. I mean, like, turn the audiobook off and turn on some happy music. Angela is a mover and shaker as the managing rep for a big name actress. She is a jet setting African American mom who's teenage son Corey lives with his father in Oakland. Every year she stops and meets with her son at her grandmothers old house for some quality time. "The Good House" and it's former owner (Grandma Marie) were know by everyone in the community as healers and helpers. Tananarive Due really excels when she is setting up the story with the history of the characters. I seem to come across writers that bore you to death with too much back story that you completely forget what the story is about. In "The Good House" the author intermingles the past with the present in a nice steady stream. I am not going to tell you much about the story because it would be filled with spoilers but just know there are a few twist and turns that you won't see coming. AT ALL! As I was reading I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then I was shocked to find out they did happen but not the way I thought they would. Toward the end of the audiobook, I could not stop listening because I was so hooked and invested in the characters and their next moves. It took me no time to complete this 21 hour audiobook. So I bet you are wondering why I gave it 4 out 5 stars. Well, I felt toward the end the author just stopped producing fresh ideas and just stopped. It was just finished. Done! Without giving anything away I just was not happy with the last chapter. It was like the "Who shot JR?" moment and I felt let down that something more creative wasn't the conclusion of this epic novel. I mean after ALL of that action and emotions. *sigh* As for the narrator Robin Miles, she is great. She has the perfect non-reader but actor voice that I love. She read all the parts and made me completely forget there was only one person reading as I got deeper into the book. I don't think anyone else could have pulled off that creole voice and a teenage boy voice in the same book like she did. Excellent job!
Again a book that I rate on a subjective (I just didn't like it) scale. I mentioned in a couple of other reviews that I'm faced with the need to "thin out" my book shelves as I've moved to a much smaller place. (My wife passed away and I just didn't need the large place, the landlady wanted to sell it and so, so here i am.) I sold and traded a lot of books when I moved, but since I didn't have room for nearly all my book shelves here the ones I have are all double loaded or at least as tightly loaded as possible. Books are shoved in each opening and on all flat spaces and I just need to let some go.
So I can get new ones :)
My wife's books have rested largely untouched on the shelves all this time and I've finally decided I need to let some of them go. But I don't like to sell, trade, give away or otherwise dispose of books I haven't read (or at least tried to read).
While there are some horror books that I like I'm not what I'd call a "horror fan" in the sense that I seek it out in preference to other genres. I've noticed many really like this book, but to me it was a sort of a case of "been there before, done that". Also I really didn't care for the story telling all that much, though that could be "just me", a matter of taste, as a lot do seem to like it.
So, lessons learned? Don't try to bring the dead back...it rarely turns out well (at least when God isn't involved), and stay away from creepy old magic books, they also tend to be unhealthy. Oh and probably it's a good idea not to mess around with Native American (or for that matter any pagan sights)burial grounds, ceremonial places and stuff, maybe don't go doing "rights" and things there. I mean it never works out well.
So, not for me and I can't recommend it myself, but a lot of people like it. Maybe you want to try a few chapters and see what you think. Not for me.
“You just give me one more good reason,” Angela said to the house from the road, “and when I am finished with you, I will burn you to the fucking ground. Don’t think I won’t.” ― Tananarive Due, The Good House
If you’re like me and cut your horror fiction teeth on Stephen King books, you might be drawn to character-driven horror. Do you easily get invested in the fictional lives of the characters to the point where you find yourself hoping nothing bad happens to them? Then add Tananarive Due to your auto-buy list and The Good House is a great place to start.
Angela Toussaint was raised by her grandmother in an estate called “Good House”. A few years after a horrible tragedy that took the life of her son, Angela returns to Washington and Good House to investigate some of the strange circumstances surrounding her son’s death. Ultimately she encounters an ancient evil entity possibly conjured up by both her voodoo-practicing grandmother in the 1920s and possibly again later by her son.
This book is heavy. It’s over 500 pages and it deals with heavy themes like teen suicide. Due’s wheelhouse is developing flesh & blood characters through authentic dialogue; the way people really talk. I love how she takes the time to place characters in the day-to-day, mundane settings like the family dinner table, a husband and wife getting ready for bed, and people driving or doing laundry. This solidifies their location in the timeline of events validating the story’s authenticity.
A real good vs. evil, light vs. dark tale introducing the reader to cultural folklore and magical rituals.
I'd been craving some good horror recently and not that sci-fi, thriller wanna-be horror, but good traditional horror of the things that go bump in the night variety. I was perusing Audible, naturally looking for the longest books in stock to make my credits worth it, and I came across an author who was said to be the equal of Stephen King. Well, that clinched it for me.
If the summary had mentioned someone like Dean Koontz I would have kept perusing. If they had mentioned someone like Richard Layman, I would have hesitated. If they had mentioned someone like Bentley Little I would have lingered a little longer, but there's no denying that despite some drop in the quality of Stephen King's later works, his influence still reigns in the horror genre.
Anyway, The Good House is about a small-town house that has fallen to an ancient curse. The history of the house is as critical to the plot as the history of the family, and although Angela has some inkling of her grandmother's unusual religious practices when she comes back to visit for a summer, she does not know the full scope of what happened in that house many years ago that set a peculiar course of events in motion. What's more unsettling is that it is not even Angela who has to fear the shadows. The evil has someone else very close to her in mind.
On the surface, it sounds like another cheap tale of a haunted house. Nay, good sir or lady. It is Stephen King's The Shining minus all the distracting ramble that kept that particular book from being a truly memorable one, and unlike The Shining, the horror is not content to stay within four walls.
What I hate about being a wanna-be writer is that I very often come across scenes that I later think to myself, "that thief stole my idea!" Yes, it's still in my head, but still... What's worse, however, is when you come across a really good scene that you think, "now that is something I should have thought about myself!"
If you ever get around to reading the book, think back to the gurgling bathtub drain in the middle of the stormy night...
I'd actually give this four and a half stars for falling into my least favorite horror trope: a character refuses to acknowledge something supernatural is happening even though THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION. But Due is such a strong writer and creates vivid characters with unique settings and wonderfully storytelling that I have to round up to five stars.