#Horror Review: The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

As a huge fan of John Everson, there were few Flame Tree Press titles that I was more excited about than The House by the Cemetery. An abandoned house by an abandoned cemetery. Stories of Satanic sacrifices and ritual murders. A decades-old haunting by a real witch. Hidden rooms, secret doors, unexplained blood, and coffins in the basement floor. Is there a better place to build a haunted house attraction for Halloween, much less a better setting with which to build a story?

Unfortunately, as excited as I was, I have to be honest, I was disappointed in this. For one, it's too long. This feels like a great short story, or even a solid novella, stretched out and padded into a full-length novel. It takes far too long to get going, and when it does, it's largely formulaic. There were no surprises, no shocks, just the confirmation of plot twists I suspected from the opening chapters. It doesn't help that the characters are horror clichĂ© foolish, prone to poor decisions, and blind to what's going on around them.

Now, with all that said, there was some great atmosphere to the opening 50 pages . . . some creepy, unsettling scenes that I just wish the book could have sustained. Similarly, the final 50 pages are over-the-top bloody fun, chaotic horror that really takes advantage of the haunted, haunted house setting. The prologue is one of the best scenes in the book, followed closely by the epilogue, which means it begins strong and ends strong. It's just a shame that there are so many prolonged soft spots in between.

The House by the Cemetery is just fine for a bit of B-grade Halloween horror, but don't judge Everson by its flaws - he's a much better writer than we see here.

Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 6th 2018 by Flame Tree Press

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

Comments

  1. Every writer can have a bad book. I love a good horror story; it seems there is nothing truly new out there any more.

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