THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR
by Anne Rivers Siddons
I wish I’d written this ...
... because it's really difficult to do anything different with a haunted house story but this one succeeds brilliantly.
Beautifully written and well paced, this is a very different type of haunted house story in that the house in question is newly built and, rather than being haunted, does the haunting itself. Great idea! The novel covers the occupancy of three families and chronicles how the house takes their weaknesses and employs them to undermine and torment, resulting in madness and death. The story is told from the perspective of the neighbours, a couple whose lives unravel as the events next door transform them from self-obsessed social butterflies to ragged social pariahs. They witness the evil and are forced by it out of their protective cocoon of self-satisfaction and financial security and into a terrifying reality that demands extreme measures (and self-destruction) in order to fight it. It’s convincing and pretty damned amazing. Where this novel really excels is in its use of rather literary descriptions, which contrast stunningly with the sudden outbursts of violence, sex and murder, all of which are recounted in a much starker tone. It lulls you into a sense of security before suddenly smacking you in the face with horror … just like the house does with its residents. This novel deserves classic status.