A new house in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood spells disaster for all its inhabitants.
It’s awfully hard to be frightened when you’re sitting on a rooftop deck in West Hollywood, letting the setting sun dry your bathing suit after discovering that you can float like a cork in the saltwater pool.
But boy, oh, boy, did Anne Rivers Siddons come close.
The House Next Door is a classic haunting story. Evil house, unsuspecting occupants, chaos ensues. It’s so simple–the best gothic tales always are–but the rich characters and deft plotting create a depth in which the horror grows like kudzu. Smother and destroy.
In addition to giving a good scare, Rivers Siddons has also crafted a perceptive slice of Americana, making it easy to see why Stephen King admires this book so much. The voices she creates for her characters are homegrown and distinctly American, just like his are, and there’s so much pleasure to be found in the nuances of their interactions that the scares are that much more shocking. They sneak up on you while you’re enjoying the way the characters gossip and bicker and persevere and love.
So in that sense, it makes perfect sense that I read the book in the distinctly un-Gothic California sun. Just like the ultramodern brand-new house that destroys the lives of the families that try to call it home, the book shines with a seductive radiance.