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House [Paperback]

Frank Peretti , Dekker Ted Dekker
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 7 2007

A mind-bending supernatural thriller from the creators of This Present Darkness and Saint.

Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker—two of the most acclaimed writers of supernatural thrillers—have joined forces for the first time to craft a story unlike any youve ever read. Enter House—where youll find yourself thrown into a killers deadly game in which the only way to win is to lose . . . and the only way out is in.

The stakes of the game become clear when a tin can is tossed into the house with rules scrawled on it. Rules that only a madman—or worse—could have written. Rules that make no sense yet must be followed.

One game. Seven players. Three rules. Game ends at dawn.


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About the Author

Frank Peretti, whose books have sold more than 12 million copies, is the author of Monster as well as the international bestsellers The Oath and This Present Darkness. The Oath (1995) has sold more than a million copies and was awarded the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best fiction. Peretti lives with his wife Barbara in the Pacific Northwest. Visit his website at www.frankperetti.com.

Ted Dekker is the New York Times best-selling author of more than 25 novels. He is known for stories that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil. He lives in Texas with his wife and children. Twitter @TedDekker, facebook.com/#!/teddekker

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prologue

He stood motionless in the entryway, staring at his own shadow splayed before him like a stain upon the floor. He studied the patina of dust, sampled the stench of mold and rat urine, listened to a beam settling one more fraction of an inch toward the center of the earth.

This room bore so little evidence of the events that had led to the dawn. From this vantage point, it was just one more abandoned house. Interesting.

But the rest of the house told the truth.

Beneath his boots, the floorboards lay shoulder to shoulder like the buried dead, cupped with creeping moisture, edges buckling, obscured by gray dust and fallen flakes of white paint.

Across the foyer, at the base of a wall, the rose-printed wallpaper fluttered. Behind one of the roses, something scratched, pushed, gnawed, and clawed until a black, whiskered nose burst through. With a wad of shredded wallpaper in its jaws, the rat wriggled through the hole, then rested on its haunches and met his eyes. Neither found the other's presence alarming. The rat skittered along the baseboard and disappeared around a corner.

At the far end of the room, half a tattered curtain rustled and stirred before a broken window. A pitiful attempt at escape. Apart from the broken window, there was no sign that anyone had been here in years.

But when some curious passerby--or the police, should they be so fortunate as to stumble upon this place--wandered farther in, they'd find signs to the contrary in abundance. And those signs would lead them to the mysteries below.

Death lingered in the musty air, even up here. The walls were like shrouds, enfolding every space in exquisite darkness. It had been a perfect arena for a perfect game.

And already Barsidious White was looking forward to the next.

 

Chapter 1

5:17 PM

"JACK, YOU'RE GONNA KILL US!"

His mind jerked out of a daydream and back to the lonely Alabama highway in front of the blue Mustang. The speedometer topped eighty. He cleared his mind and relaxed his right foot. "Sorry."

Stephanie went back to her singing, her voice clear if melancholy, her inflection classic country. "My heart holds all secrets; my heart tells no lies . . ."

That one again. She wrote it, so he never criticized it, but those awful lyrics, especially today--

"Jack!"

The speedometer was inching toward eighty again. "Sorry." He forced his foot to relax.

"What's the matter with you?"

"What's the matter--" Easy now, Jack. No fuel on the fire. "A little tense, okay?"

She smiled at him. "You should try singing."

His grip tightened on the steering wheel. "Yeah, that's your answer for everything, isn't it?"

"Excuse me?"

He sighed. He had to quit taking her bait. "Sorry." Always apologizing. He looked her way and forced a smile, hoping she would believe it.

She smiled back in a way that said she didn't.

She was beautiful, enough to capture the next man just as she'd captured him--blond, youthful, a real credit to those jeans--everything the guys in the lounges and bars could want in a country singer. No doubt those blue eyes could still sparkle, but not for him anymore. Right now they were hiding behind fashion-statement sunglasses, and she was craning to see out the back. "I think there's a cop behind us."

He checked the rearview mirror. The highway, which had narrowed to two lanes, curved lazily through late-spring forest and farmland, rose and fell over dips and rises, hiding and revealing, hiding and revealing a single car. It was gaining on them, near enough now for Jack to recognize the light bar atop the roof. He checked his speed. Sixty-five. That should be legal.

The police car kept coming.

"Better slow down."

"I'm doing the speed limit."

"You sure?"

"I can read the signs, Steph."

A few seconds more and the cruiser filled Jack's mirror as if he were towing it. He could see the cop's iron-jawed countenance behind the wheel, reflective black sunglasses obscuring the eyes.

Highway patrol.

Jack double-checked the speedometer, then slowed to sixty, hoping the cop wouldn't rear-end them.

The sedan inched closer.

He was going to rear-end them!

Jack smashed the gas pedal to the floor, and the Mustang shot ahead.

"What are you doing?" Stephanie cried.

"He was gonna hit us!"

The car fell back ten yards. Its red and blue lights flashed to life.

"Oh, great," she muttered, turning and flopping back against her seat. He could hear the blame in her voice. Always the blame. But you're the one who walked away, Steph.

The cruiser veered into the oncoming lane and pulled up beside them. The uniformed officer turned his face to Jack. Met his eyes. Or so Jack imagined. Black glasses. No expression. Jack forced his eyes back to the road.

The two cars were side by side, locked in formation at sixty miles an hour.

"What are you doing, Jack? Pull over."

He would if he could. Jack strained to see an opportunity. The forest, a thick tangle of maple, oak, and birch draped with kudzu, encroached like an advancing wall. "I can't. There's no shoulder. I can't just . . ."

He slowed. There had to be a turnout somewhere. Forty miles per hour. Thirty. The cruiser matched his speed.

Jack saw a break in the foliage, a sliver of a shoulder, just enough room. He began to veer off.

The cruiser surged and left them behind, lights blazing in silence. Fifteen seconds later it was a dot on the road between the towering trees, and then it was gone.

"What was that about?" Jack asked, checking his mirrors, rubbernecking, and easing back onto the highway. He wiped a sweaty palm on his jeans.

"You were speeding." She fixed her gaze on the highway, fumbled with a map, avoided his eyes.

"He didn't pull us over. Why was he so close? You see how close he was?"

"That's Alabama, Jack. You don't do things their way, they let you know."

"Yeah, but you don't ram someone in the tail for speeding."

She slapped her lap, a release of frustration. "Jack, will you please just get us there, legally, in one piece? Please?"

He chose silence over a comeback and concentrated on the road. Save it for the counseling session, Jack. He wondered what she'd been saving up, what new claims she'd unload tonight.

She shook out her shoulders, put on a smile, and started humming.

You really think it will work, don't you Jack? You really think you can save something you just don't have anymore?

If smiling and singing could bring back those days, he would laugh like a fool and even sing Stephanie's lyrics, but he was fresh out of illusions. All he had were the memories that stole his mind away even as his eyes remained on the road: her arms about his shoulders and the excitement in her eyes; the inner dawn he felt whenever she entered the room; the secrets they shared with a glance, a smile, a wink; all the things he thought life and love should be--

The accident changed everything.

He imagined himself sitting in the counselor's office, being honest about his feelings. I'm feeling . . . like I've been had all my life.Life is pointless. If there is a God, he's the devil, and . . . What wast hat? Oh, you mean Stephanie? No, I've lost her too. She's gone. I mean, she's here, but she's checked out . . .

He couldn't put away the idea that this whole trip was only a formality, another nail in the coffin of their marriage. Steph would sing her way to Montgomery and back and still get the divorce she wanted, go on her merry way.

"Jack, you're lost."

I sure am.

"Jack."

With a start, he returned his attention to driving. The Mustang purred along at sixty-five, gobbling up the highway. The forest was breaking up now, giving way to crude homesteads and stump-filled pastureland.

She was scanning the map, studying all those little red and black lines. Did she say he was lost? Right. She was holding the map, but he was lost.

He caught the sarcasm before it escaped. Hurtful words came so easily these days. "What do you mean?"

"Didn't you see that highway marker? It said 5."

He glanced at the mirror, then twisted to see the back of the receding sign. "5?"

She studied the map, tracing a route with her finger. "We're supposed to be on Highway 82."

He leaned and tried to read the map. The car swerved. He shot his eyes forward again, corrected the wheel.

"We're going to be late," she said.

Not necessarily. "You see Highway 5 on there? Where does it lead?"

She dragged her finger over the map and stopped about three inches out of Montgomery. "Not to Montgomery, unless you have a week to sightsee. How could you possibly have gotten off 82?"

Dare he defend himself ? "I was a little distracted by a cop eating up my bumper."

She pulled her cell phone out of a cup holder and checked the display clock. "There's no way we'll make it."

Was that hope in her voice? He checked his watch. If they turned around now, maybe--

"I canceled a gig to go to this appointment with you." Stephanie hunched in the seat, arms folded.

There it is again. My fault. She started humming. There it is again.

Red and blue lights flashed up ahead.

"Oh, great," Stephanie said. "We really don't need this."

Jack slowed as they approached the patrol car parked just beyond a turnoff. Orange cones and a sign blocked the road ahead."Repaving Operation. Highway Closed to Through Traffic," Jack read. "Well, we have to turn around anyway." Jack pulled onto the gravel shoulder but had a second thought. "Let's ask. Maybe there's a faster way."

Jack eased the blue Mustang forward, up to the turnoff, and stopped a few feet behind the patrol car. The cruiser's door swung open and an officer--the officer--stepped out, aviator sunglasses still hiding his eyes.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars edge of my seat Jan. 3 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Couldn't put the book down since starting it. It has so many horror themes packed into one story. I've read other books by the same author and haven't been able to sleep after- this one is more good, clean fun.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great blend of two great author's styles Oct. 24 2006
Format:Print on Demand (Paperback)
House by Peretti and Dekker is a fast-paced, page turner. I read this in a day. Not for the conservative Christian reader!!! If you're a fan of modern movie thrillers, you'll like this. I was guessing most of the way through. What exactly is going on? How much of this is real and how much is perceived? How will they escape from the bowels of the house? The spiritual parallels are obvious, at least they were to me, but compelling. If you like novels that are action packed, full of the blatant spiritual truths found in Peretti's works, the plot twists and turns in Dekker's - you'll like this one.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent June 4 2008
By PAULA
Format:Paperback
This was my first Ted Dekker book and it was excellent. I couldn't put it down. It has a hold on you right from the start...A must read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  439 reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The House That Jack Built April 6 2006
By Gregory Hart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have been anticipating House for quite a while. I hadn't read any of Peretti's recent books, so while waiting for House to arrive, I read Monster in anticipation. I will have to review that one too. But it reminded me of Peretti's style enough to where I was able to pick out Perettisms and Dekkerisms in House. More on those later.

A lot of people may be surprised when I say that I enjoyed House even more than Showdown. Not that Showdown was bad, because it certainly wasn't, but to me, I related to House a lot better. I read the book in about 8 total hours. I couldn't put it down.

I have also read comments from people that didn't like the character development in House, but I loved it, though I would have liked to know a little more about Randy, the other three characters were developed quite well in my opinion.

As for the twist that one user said didn't exist, there was a twist, but maybe not the kind of twist one would come to expect. I have a feeling that the twist will likely be missed by some, as it requires a slight familiararity with other works by Dekker.

I also loved the explanation for the House and why it was the way it was. That was original.

Now, on originality...I must say, this was the most original book with unoriginal ideas I have ever read. No offence to Mr. Dekker or Mr. Peretti, but this book had elements of "Saw", "The Cube", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and some older Haunted House movies whose names elude me right now, but all dealt with living, breathing houses. However, I loved the way that Dekretti took these old, tired ideas and gave them a new coat of paint. Even the ending was "standard horror fare" but still made me smile because any other kind of ending wouldn't have fit.

All in all, I loved this book. I couldn't put it down.
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, Makes You Reflect..... April 17 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The "House" reader is handed a seemingly unwinnable game with 4 main characters that almost everyone can identify with. The only problem is this is a very serious game, and for three of the characters to win, one of them must die. Otherwise, they all die. And the clock is ticking.

This is my first Ted Dekker novel, but it won't be the last. Dekker and Frank Peretti have woven a script which is a combination of film noir, and the horror movies of my childhood. It reminds me of Stephen King, with the exception that Dekker takes the high road when it comes to language and sexual situations. While some might say this makes the story less realistic, to me it makes the reader use his brain more. What happens, or doesn't happen between the lines is up to you.

I won't give away the ending, except to say no matter what your station in life, you will do some serious personal reflecting. I have a sneaking suspicion that is what Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti were aiming for all along.
58 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two authors, one exceptional story Feb. 9 2006
By Illuminating Fiction - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kill or be killed.

It was hardly the advice Jack and Stephanie Singleton were looking for to save their marriage. A road trip to a counselling session in Montgomery, Alabama goes drastically wrong and finds them lost in the backwoods. As night sets in, the "Wayside Inn" seems a godsend to the weary couple.

The Singletons' enter the genteel Inn, hoping to find help for their desperate situation. Instead they meet Randy Messarue and Lesley Taylor, who are also road trip causalities.

With no host in sight, the couples follow the instruction note attached to the front door and sign themselves in. As the foursome contemplate the dining table lavishly set for four, the lights flicker and die, leaving the guests in the dark. When the lights mysteriously come back on, the Inn's hosts also appear; Betty, Stewart, and Pete.

It soon becomes apparent that this is no ordinary Inn.

Welcome to White's house.

Barsidious White has three simple rules for his house:
1) God came to my house and I killed him.
2) I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God.
3) Give me one dead body and I might let rule two slide.

Jack, Stephanie, Randy, and Lesley are soon caught up in a cruel game in a house that seems to know their every move.

But this is not your average haunted house story. When you combine the minds of two of the masters in the supernatural thriller genre, you expect something beyond typical. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker deliver an edge-of-your-seat plot encapsulating a theme that will leave you reflecting on its ramifications for a long time after.

Peretti and Dekker refuse to whitewash the true nature of evil or their villains. In HOUSE, Barsidious White is the embodiment of evil. As far as White is concerned, the guilty must die, and everyone is guilty. In White's house, evil is pitched against evil.

HOUSE sets out to epitomise the human heart. Nothing we do can clean our hearts of the evil that resides within. So if the wages of sin is death, and we have all sinned, then why should we be allowed to live? This is the question Peretti and Dekker tackle in this enthralling novel that touches the very heart of its readers.

As a reader more familiar with Dekker's past work than Peretti's, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with this collaboration. The writing is smooth, flawless in fact. The seamless continuity of this novel is testament to the two creative minds behind it and their commitment to a quality story.

Dekker fans will not be disappointed. HOUSE is tied into his current Project Showdown series by expanding on one of the characters from SHOWDOWN. Readers concerned about the violence depicted in SHOWDOWN shouldn't have a problem with HOUSE. The violence is still there, it's no less evil, but I found it more toned down.

Peretti and Dekker invite you to enter HOUSE, where losing your life could be the only way to win.

A mini interview with Ted Dekker can be found on my review site:
[...]
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From an avid Peretti fan . . May 25 2006
By Crazy Curly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book disappointed me greatly. At first I thought that maybe it was Ted Dekker who spoiled the book. (I had never heard of Ted Dekker before I read this book!) But then I read the chapter of "Showdown" that was included in the back, and decided that was not the problem at all.

Part of the problem was the editing. Or lack thereof. It wasn't horrible, just distracting. Certainly not enough to spoil the whole book.

I realized that the ending was too abrupt for my taste. And not in a way that makes me want a sequel to explain it either.

I finished the book in one day and spent the next day and a half trying to figure out why I disliked the book so much.

Then I remembered the ad for the movie. Something about that ad bothered me too . . . . AHA!!! The movie was being released too soon after the release of the book. I now have a sneaking suspicion that the movie idea came first. A book is a great way to generate publicity for a movie.

But I think it could make a really good movie. I just don't think I will be reading this book again any time soon and I certainly will NOT reccomend it to any of my friends!
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars House Changed My Life April 24 2006
By Kelli Standish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm not a huge fan of things that go bump in the night. And this book sounded like it was full of more bumps and night than anything I'd ever read. I was afraid of it, but I read it anyway.

And it changed my life.

Right now, a monster more terrifying, more evil, and more devastating than anything I've ever encountered is devouring my marriage. The story of House helped me understand more clearly than any counseling session what needs to be done. And what I've done that does not matter.

I realized, after reading this book, that if I hurl myself at this monster with my fists flailing, attacking it with all MY strength, I have nothing to boast about. If I try to defeat this beastly devastation on my own, with my own wisdom and efforts, I will end up foolish, ineffective, and...dead. The only course of action worth anything is to throw myself to the floor in complete, utter humility, crying "Son of Man, have mercy on me a sinner."

Nothing-- not friends' advice, not my devotional reading, not my fervent prayers-- helped me see this with more clarity than the story of House.

If you take this book for its technical merit alone, then yes, there are some problems. Yes, the middle sagged a bit. Yes, some of the dialogue is repetitive. Yes, the ending left some strings untied. But come on, if flawed humans were able to create perfect things, who would need humility? Or God?

The reality is, Dekker and Peretti's story is a delivery vehicle for a metaphor so powerful, it could only be painted by the hand of God Himself. Rather than dissecting the book's mechanics, I challenge readers of House to see the story as a movie projector, and look for the vivid, vital message it projects.

Bottom line? For this broken-hearted girl who fears monsters and thrillers, Dekker and Peretti have just made a difference. (Again)
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