Thanks for this one AG it was a nice surprise, and provided a good weeks worth of entertainment.
A haunted house book: haunted houses have been done to death though haven’t they? Well this is an interesting new twist. A haunted house and reality TV: not Big Brother, but Big Other. We learn lots of things about reality TV and as things unfold we learn that nobody is quite what they seem. We watch the characters tear themselves apart all for the amusement of reality TV. Past events are brought to the present, old rivalries renewed and scores are to be settled.
This story really is a case of trust nobody and nothing is really as it seems. Twist after twist unfolds and the ending is a little unexpected and blunt. There was, I thought, a final twist that could have been used, but the author chose not to use it. Shame, as it might have led to a follow on book.
The plot was a great idea, but sadly that’s where things end. This book could have been so much more but was let down by poor execution and the crossing of genres. Sadly, I think the author has sold himself short.
Firstly, the length of the book: 500 plus pages was far too long. Much of the narration felt like unnecessary padding. Facts and details were given that were not required for the story. In fact, much of the early book served little or no purpose at all. One reviewer on Amazon claimed to have read to page 315 and then given up because nothing had happened. I thought that was a little unfair, but understood her point.
Then there was the list of players: the seven house guests, the main protagonist and her colleagues, not forgetting the television crew and the characters from the past. This was, in my opinion, far too big a list of players for key roles. It ought to have been whittled down with no more than three or four key characters which would have made the story tighter and far easier to follow. There is nothing more frustrating than getting characters mixed up and having to flick back through pages to review who has done what, who has said what and to whom. In fact, I felt this was made worse by the choice of character names and the bad habit the author had of calling them by Christian name one minute and surname the next. It became even worse when initials were used.
The author has an interesting descriptive writing style. I thought it very reminiscent of the late and much lamented, M.R. James. Once we were past the early story and into the fray, Mr Rickman created great atmospheres and he had the knack of leaving much unsaid, letting the readers’ mind fill in the blanks.
With the sad loss of James Herbert, the horror genre is looking for new blood. I think Mr Rickman could well be that new blood if he tightens up his style a little.
3 anchors: overall a decent, but rather laborious read.