House of Windows Paperback – Aug 1 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
"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."
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