At first I thought this novel was about living through the first great depression—in Canada of all places—which, as it turns out, was as deeply impacted as anything we Americans suffered at the time. That much makes sense I suppose, but for an American it’s very eye opening to see an all too familiar period of history come alive again from such a fresh vantage point. Well, the book is about that, just not entirely about that. You see the book’s central character is not a person, but a house. And we experience the lives of many generations of people who move through it. None are left unscathed. In fact, none are left even slightly sane. So this isn’t just historical fiction at its best, which it is, as subsequent eras come alive and jump off the page with authentic, well-researched detail. It isn’t just a psychological thriller at its best, which it is, as it takes us on a tour of the twisted machinations in each character’s mind with a vividness that recalls Dean Koontz. It’s a horror story about a possessed house that puts any other like horror story to shame. How does it do this?
Unlike cheap horror stories where the ensemble cast is just there to die, preferably the sooner the better, just so they can stop annoying us with their two-dimensional, vapid personalities, because the writers wouldn’t know a real person if they saw one, these characters will haunt you forever; they will simply not get out from under your skin. Quirky, personable, and all too easy to empathize with, they are full of flaws and twists and turns to their personalities that make them compelling in ways even few real people can be; after all, in life, how many of us are that true to ourselves?
Aside from the great character work, the plotting keeps the reader guessing and on their toes about what’s around the next corner. I also loved the social commentary and the dark wry humor underling each of the characters and how they were portrayed, one might even say, betrayed. Because each member of the ensemble cast comes from such different walks of life, this tale is really a tour de force examination of how larger than life personalities (any of us can relate to) are brought down by ambition, greed, corruption, and just being too darn smart for their own good. The seven deadly sins are on full display here. But this is more than just a morality tale, and a challenge to each of us to toe the line; because as it turns out, when we put our own needs before the greater good, our soul is ultimately what’s sacrificed. As to how to prevent that, well, I guess you have to read the book, and be transformed by it. For knowing is only half the trick, actually undergoing the alchemical transformation is the hard part, and for that you need the magic of great writing. This writer is full of such magic.
note: This book is currently undergoing copy-editing clean up, and for now is only available on Wattpad.