Bestselling horror writer/amateur parapsychologist David Masters and his teenage daughter, Amber, move for the summer into California's notorious "Body House," the site of two horrendous massacres and the occasional odd death over the past eighty years. Masters is setting his latest novel in such a place, and wants the atmosphere of the infamous house for inspiration and publicity.
The gossipy locals consider him a fool, and after a while he has to wonder if they're right - the house is haunted by its owner, Lizzie Baudey, a turn of the century madame, and her evil daughter Christabel, who was raised in absentia by a voodoo priest who taught her the black arts. Lizzie's former lover, a sea captain, also wanders about the deserted lighthouse at odd hours, minus his head.
Things start out well enough, with only the occasional bothersome cold spot around, but then Amber finds two of Christabel's legendary missing dolls, and all hell starts breaking loose...
Another well-written winner by the inexplicably all-but-unknown Ms. Thorne, which benefits most from her usual sympathetic and enjoyable characters. Its only real problem is the precise nature of the haunting, which now and then is a little confusing, and a bit of a slow start. But the suspense is steady, the horror pretty gory, and the finale scary and exciting. Haunted is not a classic in the sense of Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Matheson's Hell House or King's The Shining, but that's only because of its more formulaically dramatic streamlining. It is, however, only about one rung beneath those famous pieces, and certainly will satisfy ghost story or haunted house lovers.
Thorne is an author to watch.