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House of Windows Paperback – Aug 1 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (Aug. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159780195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597801959
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #894,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Fine first novel Jan. 16 2010
By D. D. Montee - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It's fascinating that Publishers Weekly, so enthusiastic about Langan's short story collection MR GAUNT (which I have not yet read, but soon will), should be so inexplicably harsh in their review of HOUSE OF WINDOWS. Anyway, pay no attention; heed Lucius Shepard's blurb on the dust jacket instead. This is an intriguing, heartfelt first novel, an effective blend of Straub (JULIA), James (TURN OF THE SCREW), Lovecraft (DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE), with so many other subtle nods to masters of the literary ghost story that the connections themselves become greatly entertaining to classic macabre fanatics (like me). But what Langan does exceptionally well is characterization: his protagonist, Veronica, is one of the more involving central characters of the many novels of this type in recent years; and Shepard is right on the mark when he calls the book a "beautifully observed narrative of two marriages". (But the supernatural elements are wonderfully creepy too!) Occasionally the measured pace might trouble readers who are looking for a "what happened next" moment on every page; but what Langan sacrifices in pace, he more than makes up for in character detail and a caring sense of locale.

This is a nuanced and textured novel that deserves much more than the brush-off by Publishers Weekly. I'd give it at least 4 stars, perhaps 4 1/2. Give it a try.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
One of the top horror novels of 2009 Feb. 21 2010
By Paul Tremblay - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The novel centers around Veronica (young, beautiful grad student) and Roger (65 yr old divorcee, well-established and respected Dickens scholar/professor, who's son Ted had joined the Army and is killed in Afghanistan) and their complex relationship/marriage, the relationships they have/had with their parents, and ultimately the relationships they have with themselves as well. Langan isn't interested in heroes, and Roger and Veronica are painfully human, and he has the courage in a first novel to devote a lot of time to developing them, big fat warts and all. It more than pays off when the strange occurrences at the Belvedere house begin to take place. Langan offers no easy answers or explanations to the happenings, which give the proceedings the weight of reality even as reality breaks down for his characters. And within these shifting threads of the narrative, character motivation, and even of the physical house itself, the idea of story (and how we're defined by story) is everywhere.

"Dickens tries to come to terms with his childhood traumas, his adult ambivalences, by writing about them over and over. Hawthorne tries to clarify his Puritan legacy to himself in story after story. Whenever something happens to you-something too much-you create a story to deal with it, to define if not contain it."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nearly Great June 10 2014
By J. Drayton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

I've given this four stars because I want you to read it. So much of it is really first class: a strong, original central theme, very well-drawn and surprisingly sympathetic characters and a style that manages that difficult trick: Literate Page-Turner.

It's not perfect. As others have noted, it's too long and it really would have been better for some fairly severe cuts. At, say, 150 pages, this would be a stunning achievement. At 260 it's bloated and tends to drag at times when it really shouldn't. Some scenes that are clearly meant to chill tend to fall a bit flat and the climactic scene, which is a bit out of kilter tone-wise from the rest of the book, is allowed to outstay its welcome.

Two things in particular stand out: the ending, which is sort of lovely and very hopeful (the very end, I mean) and an early scene about whale watching and fathers. Beautifully written, that one.

I think John Langan's short fiction is more successful than this, but for those of us who like intelligent horror fiction this flawed novel is a gem to be relished.
A Haunted House March 17 2013
By S. P. Miskowski - Published on
Format: Paperback
English professor and well-known Dickens scholar Roger Croydon has disappeared. The tale his wife Veronica offers to a young horror writer, over late-night glasses of wine at the home of an acquaintance, is intended to describe if not explain the circumstances of that disappearance. In fact, no final explanation may be possible. The answers lie in the complex geometric structure of the house occupied by the Croydons, and in the harsh words spoken by Roger to his only son, Ted, just prior to Ted's deployment to Afghanistan.

House of Windows is a remarkably engaging synthesis of Dickensian themes, classic tales of terror such as "The Monkey's Paw" and the stories of Shirley Jackson and M.R. James. To the author's credit the novel does not read like a scholarly work but a believable exploration of human weakness and parental grief. In the best horror tradition, John Langan creates a plausible landscape with recognizable characters to convince us of the possibility of the supernatural in every day life.

Roger's marriage to Veronica (one of his former graduate students) is the final straw in a lifelong conflict between Roger and his son. When that conflict erupts into physical violence the two men part company, but not before Roger delivers a farewell speech which Veronica, in its aftermath, comes to see as a curse. Roger refuses to admit the nature of his final words to Ted, and begins to assemble a strange map intended to account for all conditions in the known world at the exact moment of Ted's demise. Descending into this geometrical and astronomical endeavor, Roger is unaware of the forces his efforts are unleashing upon his home and his wife.

Langan is never overly explicit in his depiction of Roger and Veronica as they construct their private nightmare. He doesn't explain what happens. Instead he allows a character that is significantly flawed and morally ambiguous to guide us through the last days of an increasingly unhappy life. Like Eleanor in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Veronica is not intended to elicit the reader's sympathy. Rather she reveals what she knows of events that have left her damaged beyond repair, and her knowledge is obviously limited. We catch glimpses of the emerging horror in her marriage, and we are meant to put together the pieces of this disturbing jigsaw. The scary scenes are that much sharper and unsettling because our imagination keeps filling in the gaps.

John Langan's previous published work includes the collection Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters. He seems to be mining the territory shared by Joe Hill and Peter Straub-the meticulously described real world occasionally losing focus to reveal something quite horrible just beneath the surface. It might not be real. It might be an illusion or a psychological state, but it chills us nevertheless. Perhaps it would not be so frightening, if it did not follow our protagonist's movements with such merciless precision.

(Note: I received a review copy from Night Shade Books when the novel was first released.)
To be read on a dark and stormy night April 1 2014
By John C. Foster - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If ever a book demanded to be read on a dark and stormy night, it is John Langan’s House of Windows, an atmospheric, moody and nuanced tale of a spiraling marriage, obsession, and one of the most unique hauntings I have ever come across. Narrator Veronica Croydon and her much older husband Roger are very real characters, often frustrating in their flawed humanity as the screws tighten and the elements of the supernatural intrude with greater frequency and potency. This is not a “jump scare” novel, rather, it plays off our fear of things seen from the corner of our eye (at least at first) to create an ever building sense of unease…to the point where I was actually compelled to turn on a nightlight, so frequently was I checking a darkened doorway after I finished reading one night. I would not usually use the term “literary horror novel” – but I think the shoe fits in this case. I suspect that fans of Peter Straub or earlier writers such as M.R. James would thoroughly enjoy House of Windows and I highly recommend it.