House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

house-of-echoesAfter the major success of his first novel, Ben Tierney’s publisher expects great things from his new book-in-process; unfortunately, it is a stalled venture.  This is bad news, as Ben’s wife Caroline has just lost her high-profile job and they’ve got two young boys – and New York City isn’t cheap.

Ben inherits property in rural upstate New York, and while they are there inspecting things he and Caroline decide to buy a huge decrepit country house with the intent of turning it into an inn.  The price is right, and they also figure it will be a fresh start for their older son Charlie, who has been traumatized by events at his school.

The Crofts, as the house is known in the local community, at first is a refuge to the family.  Charlie is in thrall of its vast grounds and the forest that surrounds it.  Caroline, despite the stress of bipolar disorder, throws herself wholeheartedly into making the old house habitable as a bed and breakfast.  And Ben is getting new ideas for his second novel.

There’s too many uncanny things happening for their stay to be an idyllic retreat.  Some of the locals are welcoming enough; others are not.  Certain behaviors of the community are downright antiquated.  There’s a quiet menace that grows in the surrounding area, and Charlie, an introverted kid, becomes even more withdrawn.

The harshest winter storm of the season tests the Tierney family in more ways than one, and trust is no longer something they have with the natives.  If only they could leave The Crofts…

House of Echoes is a decent page turner that has enough spooky elements and jump moments to make it work.  The book follows in the tradition of The Shining and other books where the house and land themselves become personified and terrifying.

If you like this one, try The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian or A Sudden Light by Garth Stein.

(William Hicks, Information Services)





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