Saturday, September 29, 2007

The House Next Door (thoughts)

It's been awhile since my last R.I.P. II review! And, since my Little Black Poppet came in (he's currently nameless...it's taking awhile), and Carl's challenging everyone to bloghop, this post seems doubly appropriate.

I read The House Next Door by Anne River Siddons in one night: it's definitely one of those books that grabs you and doesn't let you go. Nevertheless, I have hesitations about recommending it, because it feels, well, evil. I was left with a very bad feeling that took about a day to dissipate. I suppose I'm just not used to horror novels like this, but I'd caution would-be readers that Siddons will get under your skin.

The book is told in first-person, and most of it is set in the recent past, with Col recounting all of the events that led up to her and her husband's decision to talk to People magazine (this is disclosed in the foreward; I promise, no spoilers here). Col lives in an affluent suburb outside of Atlanta, and she is very upset to hear that the plot next door has been bought, and that a modern-style house is going to be built there. The house goes through three families, which each make up a different part of the book, with each story getting progressively creepier. The last one involves an abusive husband, and it was at that point in the book that I began to feel almost physically ill. I know that might sound silly, but I had a very intense reaction; it certainly surprised me!

Eventually, Col and her husband realise that the house is evil; then they have to decide what kind of action to take to try to save future buyers from the house. I won't give away the ending, but it's definitely a good one.

So, there's a lot of positives about this book: it's written well (in his intro, which I didn't read until after I finished the novel, King calls the style Southern Gothic), the characters are interesting, the house is spooky, the plot compelling. Nevertheless, I really wish I'd never picked this one up. I don't even like looking at it; I'm hoping someone'll bookmooch it soon. Siddons did her job too well; while I'll definitely be looking at other books she wrote, I'm very glad this is the only work of horror in her oeuvre. Definitely gave me the shivers, so very R.I.P. II appropriate.

Favourite Passage
"If you think daugher and Daddy are creepy, you ought to catch the sonny-and-Mama show," Kim said. "The mother of the groom was there when I went to see Pie, and she couldn't keep her hands off poor old Buddy. Smoothing his hair, and straightening his tie, and saying what a soldier he'd been about the whole thing, and not once even looking at the bereft little mama, who was glaring daggers at her. She's the soldier in the family; looks exactly like Douglas MacArthur. And he was practically peeing on the rug with gratitude. If you ask me, there's something Tennessee Williams about the whole tribe of 'em." (60)

13 comments:

jenclair said...

Uh oh, I love spooky and supernatural, but don't like feeling as if the evil touches me. I don't want to carry that feeling away after putting down the book, so I'll skip this one. Thanks for the warning.

Bellezza said...

I am a huge fan of Anne Rivers Siddons, and I just read The House Next Door last winter. It really creeped me out. She is such a fabulous writer, and no two works of hers seem the same. I particularly like Colony and Islands. Have you read those? This one was a GREAT choice for the RIP II challenge!

Vidalia said...

Great review! I like your use of a quote-really conveys the flavor of the book. I'm definitely hooked. I've enjoyed Siddons before, and this sounds suitably creepy for October (in spite of the lingering chills you describe). Dashing to see if my library has it.

stefanie said...

Evil house books make excellent reading when they are well done. sounds like this one was. I'll add it to my list of books to read when I want to scare myself :)

Susan said...

This book is really a departure for Anne Rivers Siddons. I think you'd joy her other books - mostly Southern women's fiction - better.

SuziQoregon said...

I listened to this as an audiobook a couple of years ago. It was seriously well-written creepy.

Eva said...

Jenclair, no problem-I felt kind of silly including a warning like that, but it's how I felt.

Bellezza, I haven't read anything else by Siddons, but I plan to. Thanks for the recs!

Vidalia, thanks! And if your library doesn't have it, you can always bookmooch it. :)

Stefanie, have fun.

Susan, I think I would too. In her intro, she discusses how the book kind of morphed and took control, and I think she had the same weird feelings about it I did.

Suzi Q, I can't even imagine it on audiobook! Extra, extra creepy!

Violetsme said...

Hi Eva - I love Siddons, but didn't really like this one. By the time I'd gotten to it, I had been reading her other southern fiction, so it seemed out of place. My favorite Siddons is Colony (and is also in my top ten list of favorite books, period). I also especially liked Peachtree Road. Colony is multi-generational, and the main character makes you think of the film "Steel Magnolias". I think you would like it. All of her books grab you - I've never picked up one of hers and not finished it. The audiobook version is good as well, because the point of view changes from a younger member of the family to an older one, and the two readers are really good. I'd be curious what your thoughts are if you do decide to read it - you have such eclectic taste!

Eva said...

Violetsme, love your name. :) Well, if Colony is anything like Steel Magnolias, it's moving to the top of the list! I like to pretend I'm Southern, so any book that helps me do that is appreciated. Unfortunately, I can't check out your blog through your username, so if you have one, please leave a link! Thanks so much for the recommendations.

Les said...

This one really spooked me! I was so surprised that Siddons wrote such a creepy story. I'd only read a handful of her books (Colony is my favorite!) and this was quite a departure! Definitely give Colony a try when you get a chance.

Bookfool said...

Oh, darn, I just got a copy of this one. So, is it nightmare-inducing? Should I save it for the daylight?

Krysta said...

I've never been to this site before but just finished The House Next Door last night (read it in its entirety yesterday). Same spooked feeling that I can't shake. I want to discuss the end with someone but I also don't want to spoil it for those who've not read it yet. It has left me very unsettled and I want to close some gaps if possible. Thanks.

Louise said...

I just read this one, and wasn't nearly as scared as you :-)