- 260 pages
- Debut Author
- Haunted House
- POC characters
Eric Ross and his two daughters are on the run across the country (from a mysterious past, of course) when they come across an ad for The Spite House. The house is supposedly the most haunted house in the state of Texas, and known to the townspeople as ‘The Masson House,’ is filled with a rich history that is quick to send everyone who’s heard of it running. Yet, with nowhere to stay and a large pay-out on the line, Eric jumps at the opportunity for a lucky break.
This Gothic thriller is bone-chilling, filled with grief and death as readers access the secrets of The Spite House along with the Rosses.
I’ve been loving horror novels lately, and The Spite House quickly caught my attention–the cover of this book is eerie and it just looks like the perfect haunted house-read.
That being said, while I did enjoy the plot of this book, I did find it to be a little clunky. As some other reviewers have mentioned, I felt that the dialogue was awkward and forced. Dess’s dialogue in particular, takes up quite a lot of page-space in this story. Yet, she’s often found saying strange things, like ‘Yeah, Nah,” “like,” and “totally.” For someone who doesn’t know a teenager, these are very stereotypical teenage-words. But, these days it reads a lot more Valley-Girl than teenager, and Dess doesn’t come across as unintelligent–she’s supposed to be a well-educated track star. Strange.
One thing I DID enjoy about Compton’s writing is the effort that went into Eric’s point of view. It’s very clear throughout The Spite House that Eric’s personality changes the more time he spends in the house. While it’s often easy to showcase changes in characters through other characters POV, it can be difficult to do it through that particular perspective, and I appreciated that Compton did that for us.
Yet, the POVs in this book weren’t exactly…smooth, in general. Changing perspective is not an easy thing to do as a writer. As I write my first book, I’m learning this firsthand. It’s difficult to change the narrative to reflect a different character’s voice. Creating multiple different characters is even harder. I definitely found that the characters in The Spite House sounded too similar. Dess was a watered down version of Eric. Stacy was an even more watered down version of Dess. Millie, Eunice, and Lafonda all blended together. The narratives by Masson were hard to follow and difficult to visualize. Personally, this was one of those books that would have benefited from two narratives: either going back between Eric and Eunice or Eric and Dess, depending on what Compton’s main goal of the plot here was.
I think this review from Kate at Library Ladies, really sums up the character issue well. “there are a lot of perspectives in this book. Some of them we get to see multiple times, which makes sense, we absolutely need to get into Eric’s head, and Dess and Stacy’s heads. But there were also the perspectives of some side characters that we only spent the minimal amount of time with, and it didn’t feel necessary, really. If anything, it contributed to the lagging pace.”
That being said, a horror novel’s goal isn’t just to be ‘spooky.’ It needs substance. I do feel that the plot of this book was engaging–but maybe it was too drawn out. There were some extra scenes that dragged a little bit, and the last 30% of the book or so felt forced. I also felt like the stuff with Eric’s wife/Stacy’s mom was just a filler for a plot hole. I think it would have been much better to just leave it out and have killed her off early on or something. Again, too many characters.
In general, I did like this book. I think it’s a good spooky read and it’s relatively fast paced, which is perfect for readers. Plus, there were a few scenes in this novel that I actually felt were so well done that they gave me chills. There’s very few horror novels that have done that for me, so I really appreciated that.
That being said, I found a lot of developmental problems with this book, and quite a few grammatical errors. This book read like a second draft that needed one more round with an editor, and it shows. Unlike other horror books I’ve read, like Sister, Maiden, Monster (you can read that review here), The Spite House was a little forgettable and I doubt I’ll be able to tell you all the details six months from now. Does that make it a bad book? No. But, hopefully Compton will give us something even tighter and scarier next time. I’ll be looking forward to it.
For more book recommendations, check out my blog page, or subscribe to my mailing list below for the earliest updates on when new posts go live!