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.
"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)