I’ve always been interested in the paranormal. I guess I’d call myself a believer in the possibility of ghosts and love nothing more than a good haunted house story. It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel featuring a haunting, so after being instantly captivated by the gorgeous cover and the intriguing synopsis, I felt it was time to break that run and find out what was haunting The Nightmare Room.
New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter’s ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.
They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town – a house purchased by Peter’s father at auction and kept secret until now – and start to settle into their new life.
But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur – mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.
The Nightmare Room is a genuinely unsettling story which reveals its true intentions after a slow build. Because of the slow burn the characters are able to breathe and grow into people you care for. Yes, some have flaws but they mostly react in a believable way to the situations they find themselves in. I did find a couple of times throughout the book that characters felt compelled to react to something with no further explanation. Maybe it was the power of the house, but I would have liked a little more reasoning for their decisions. But that is the only minor criticism (Oh, the ghost expert being a Goth was a little irritating, but she is such a fun character I can forgive that)
Right from the off, Sorensen has written some incredibly skillful scares into the plot, some of which had me feeling very uneasy, so much so I had to turn on an extra light. Yes, this is a Haunted House story, but what I found most unsettling were the themes of loss, grief and regret. Sorensen has created characters that are painfully real, that are struggling to cope with the death of a child, trying to keep their relationship alive whilst also dealing with the cruelty of a parent with dementia. This is not done in a heavy-handed way at all, I felt genuine emotion for the heart breaking situation they find themselves in. It’s whilst you are at this low ebb, feeling vulnerable as a reader that Sorensen then hits you with the sucker punch of a supernatural event that truly takes the wind out of your sails. Everything’s heightened to terrifying levels.
The Nightmare Room is the first in The Messy Man series, which is interesting as I felt Book One seemed to work very well as a standalone novel. It’s great news there will be a second book from Chris Sorensen, he’s an author I look forward to reading a lot more of in the future.
The Nightmare Room is a very well written haunted house story packed with genuine scares, heart wrenching emotion and strong characters you care about. I thoroughly recommend you pay The Nightmare Room a visit, just make sure you leave a light on.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4****