review

Selling A Haunted House

Last Sunday we went suit shopping for my husband. Neither of us particularly looked forward to the process, but we could no longer put it off, so we rewarded ourselves with shopping at Barnes and Noble. Both of us are giant book nerds, which is one reason our marriage works so well.

As is my wont (It’s a word. Look it up.), I wandered off not really looking for anything in particular. I’d put a book by Sarah Miller on hold at the library, and I thought I’d see what B&N had by her. (Answer: nothing.) As always, I meander through the Thriller/Mystery/Horror section to see what catches my eye. Some I buy. Some I get from the library. What really got my attention was a review/staff pick for a book that wasn’t there…a quick search showed me that it wasn’t on display because it wasn’t out then.

Color me intrigued.

Grady Hendrix had been low key on my radar for some time. I’d seen the ads for My Best Friend’s Exorcism on Netflix, and my daughter has spoken of The Final Girl Support Group. Both books were on the shelf, so was The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. In the end, I didn’t purchase any of those books, choosing instead a different one (more on that in another post). But I really, really want to read these books. I put all of them in my library hold queue, but How to Sell A Haunted House had 35 holds for 5 books. I wouldn’t get to read it until summer at the earliest. Bummer.

Gentle reader, I bought the book. Hardbound. I rarely do that anymore. But it was so, so worth it.

I stayed up until 2AM reading this book, finishing it in one day. (Less than that. I didn’t get it until late afternoon.) The book itself isn’t very long (400 pages). Okay, so it’s long for some readers, but the print is on the large side.

Anyway, if I had to comp this book, it would be Fannie Flagg meets Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. It’s about being haunted–literally and figuratively–with a Southern flair. Think: Steel Magnolias meets The Shining. I adore the mix of laughing and being scared. I think it’s an 80s thing. (Speaking of 80s thing, watch My Best Friend’s Exorcism. It’s a good time.)

Hendrix certainly knows his Southernisms, especially Southern women, and he writes about them with a gentle humor that I appreciated. In fact, he is more sympathetic towards his female characters than his male. TBH, I am always a little concerned with a male author chooses the POV of a female (and the reverse, too), but Hendrix does an excellent job fleshing out Louise and making her believeable.

Across the board, his characters live and breathe, always dancing on the line of hyperbole, but never crossing, and I know women like Aunt Gail, so I can honestly say she’s only the tiniest bit exaggerated.

His horror is more creepy than gory, even the gory parts drew me in as opposed to making me squirm, perhaps because there was a logic (if a twisted one) to the bloodletting. And I don’t want to spoil any plot points, but I can tell you I am seriously going to side eye my mother’s doll collection the next time I visit her house.

Very often I lament not being able to write like a particular author. For Hendrix, I just enjoyed being in the presence of his words. That may be because our styles are similar. I like to think so.

I think that’s enough for now. I need to go to the library and pick up my books on hold.