Posts Tagged ‘How to Sell a Haunted House’

Two posts in one day. My Followers of Fear, you either did something very good in your past life or very bad. Either way, I finished Grady Hendrix’s latest novel on audio book today, so I’m going to review it here.

How to Sell a Haunted House follows Louise Joyner, a mother of a five-year-old who has a complicated relationship with her family. When her parents die unexpectedly, she flies from San Francisco to Charleston to take care of their estate and put them to rest. However, things are complicated by her younger brother Mark, whose lifestyle and choices puts him in conflict with Louise from day one. As the two argue like children and try to get the estate settled, they soon find that something malevolent is alive within their childhood home. And unless they get their shit together, it may claim not just the both of them, but Louise’s little girl.

The amazing thing about Grady Hendrix is that he can take a concept that sounds ridiculous on paper and write a whole novel out of it that’s both darkly comic and quite terrifying. From an IKEA knockoff built on the grounds of a former prison, to a teenage girl becoming possessed in 1980s-saturated Charleston, he just makes it work. And it’s no different here. Honestly, I found myself laughing quite a bit listening to Mark and Louise act like me and my sisters at our worst times ten. And as you get further in and see just how dysfunctional this family is, you find yourself glad you’re not part of the same family.*

And when you figure out who/what is going to be the main antagonist of the story, you find yourself laughing…only to see how terrifying said antagonist is. And as you see episodes from Louise and Mark’s childhoods and adulthoods that formed them as people, you see elements as these moments come back to literally haunt them in their parents’ homes. It’s freaky, and there were actually times I found myself wincing or shuddering as I listened to these moments.

And underneath all the darkness and comedy, you get some great themes about the effects of generational trauma on family and family dynamics, about learning to deal with death (and explain it to children), and what family actually is. It’s heavy stuff.

I do have some problems with the book, however. I did see a certain twist regarding the antagonist very early on, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I also thought the resolution of the climax could have been a bit darker and might have ended too sweetly. And I would have liked to see Mark and Louise explore and resolve their issues a bit more. I feel like during the last third of the book, a lot of stuff was skipped over so the novel could reach its end.

But all in all, How to Sell a Haunted House is another awesome release from Grady Hendrix, whom I’m sure will only continue to grow in stature as a storyteller. On a scale of 1 to 5, I award his latest outing a 4.2 out of 5. It’s funny, creepy, and an all-around thrilling story. Grab a copy, settle down, and get ready to either feel grateful for your own family or feel like you’re reading about your relatives (it’s either one or the other, for better or for worse).

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time (which will be sometime before the week is done), good night and pleasant nightmares.

*I actually texted my own sisters to let them know how much I loved them and was glad we got along despite our childhood rivalries and disagreements. They were touched, as well as concerned about me because I was sending that text. Anyway, that’s how I reacted to this family’s malfunction.