Right off the bat let me say that The House By The Cemetery is the perfect book to read at this time of year. It’s the story of a house that’s been rumoured for years to be haunted and it’s transition into a new Halloween attraction. Packed with pop references to the horror movies and directors that we all loved from horrors ‘golden years’ (Argento & Suspiria to Craven & Nightmare) and full of characters that mostly play to the horror movie clichés that we grew up watching, The House By The Cemetery is a fast, fun read but not without a few issues.
Mike is a down on his luck carpenter who has been employed to get the house safe at minimal cost. The house needs to be open in time for the Halloween season. It’s whilst doing these repairs that he meets the mysterious Kate, who Mike falls for in a big way. So much so, he will do absolutely anything for her, and I mean anything. And it’s here that my first issue lies. Mike barely questions what Kate asks him to do. Yeah I get the whole love is blind thing, but Mike is asked to do some weird shit. Kate uses her sexuality to address any minor resistance Mike puts up and the downbeat carpenter responds as any red-blooded male in a horror movie would and cracks on without further question.
Initially the pop movie references were great fun, each of the attractions rooms are designed to pay homage to our favourite classic horror movies. The first few times a character enters a room the author gives us a brief description of what the room looks like and this really got my mind’s eye working. The problem is this continues to happen throughout the novel, the references started to get a little distracting from the books main plot points.
The details of the paranormal activity that Mike witnesses are incredibly well written, but the story prior to the attraction opening is a tad repetitive. Mike working on a new part of the house, experiencing something weird, Kate shows up, drinks beer, Kate disappears and repeat. It’s a shame as when the action gets going, this is a bloody good read. I’d like to see more character development especially for the paranormal investigator. This book is all about Mike, any other characters are essentially fodder.
The House By The Cemetery would make a quite brilliant novella. (A movie would be insane and seriously give the Evil Dead remake a run for its money in the blood department) A slightly flabby first half sheds it’s weight delightfully for one of the most fun and OTT last thirds I’ve read in a long time.
Don’t get me wrong The House By The Cemetery is more Treat than Trick, once the house opens to the public the shackles are off and the reader is rewarded with some brutal, well written horror.
Star Rating (out of 5): 3*
Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.