House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Honestly, there are a number of really nice things about this novel, mostly in the descriptions and a few fairly early-on reveals, such as the rotting beehive, that got to me. Other good things were the all out gorefest perfectly reminiscent of all the 80's B-Movie extravaganzas, including all the cheese, all the neatly wrapped-up characters in overblown situations brought together with even more convenient reveals until we get a nice gore-strewn bow made of intestines, or in this case, pre 1950's dresses and glassy eyes.
On the negative side of the review, it's all exactly as I just said. B-Movie extravaganza. And a bad B-Movie, too. It's all too pat and all the emotions I'm supposed to feel are hardly telegraphed to me, they're told to me. I also had a problem with Catherine. All the conceits and the creepy past and her mental problems might be a staple of such horrors, a nice counterpoint to the outside horror she finds herself, but how it was pulled off just didn't seem right to me. I never really connected with her at any point. It was like she was overacting for the screen and I should have been laughing at her performance before she got sucked into the Ghoulies set, but no, there was way too much seriousness and intent to be serious all around me. It was both a downer and it was out of sync.
Maybe others who haven't watched nearly as much truly horrible horror movies as me might get something more out of this novel, or perhaps I'm just being too critical, because I thought the truly bizarre aspects were pretty fun. I just wish I could have fallen into the true *horror* of it, along with Catherine, more.
Who knows, this might actually be a decent extremely low-budget movie... some day.
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