Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Starter House - Sonja Condit

One of my favorite review blogs is Whimpulsive. The woman who writes it encouraged me to start my own several years ago, and encouraged me again recently when I was trying to decide whether to strike it back up after a hiatus. What I most admire about her is how disciplined she is about it, how she is willing to try new things with it, how unmarried she is to her format when she decides to change things up. She's quite prolific in her reading: she adores the printed word, but also plugs in to audio books, downloads books to her not-an-Amazonian-monopoly-product, and is an unapologetic fan of graphic novels as well. Her tastes are eclectic. I've had the honor of turning her on to a couple of my favorite southern writers, and she's more than returned the favor when she's "sold" me on an author I might have been avoiding.

I'm inspired to mention her today because I sometimes find myself wanting to be even briefer than usual when reading a book about which I'm lukewarm, or one of the older titles I grab when there's nothing new or forthcoming begging to be read. The Starter House by Sonja Condit is a pretty good book to begin to employ that same strategy.

I might mention that I'm also *cough* sort of copying a couple of Whimpulsive's headers, which are actually two bits of information I think are always interesting. I'm the least creative person I know, but I'm very good at giving credit where credit's due. Plus, she lives way too far away from where I live to hurt me.

Why I Read This Book:  The author was a writing student of a friend of mine, a fact he pointed out to me when I was wondering what I might read next.

What the Jacket Tells You About the Story (in paraphrase): Newly expectant parents Lacey and Eric Miszlaks have been hunting for their first home when they come across exactly the sort of place Lacey has dreamed of, "Triangles...Gables. Dormer windows." Even their realtor tries to dissuade them from buying it by uttering the words, "People died here."

Well, there's your sign... especially when she offers up no further explanation... because inexplicably, the prospective buyers don't bother to press for details. Really? And when a creepy little boy begins insinuating himself into Lacey's life -- only Lacey's, mind you, not anyone else's -- I did a bit of time-traveling back to every creepy movie I ever saw where I spent too much energy yelling, DON'T GO UP THE STAIRS at actors who couldn't hear me.

There were at least three very good Shirley Jackson-ish short stories in this novel. It is my considered and singular opinion that they should have stayed in their separate corners, because mixing them together watered each of them down.

Ms. Condit did write a very readable scary story, though, and for those who don't mind being able to anticipate each twist and just want something a little creepy, this one will do just fine.

(Click on the stars if you want to read about my very loose, non-scientific, sometimes not very consistent rating system.)

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