Wednesday, August 05, 2015

First Wednesday Book Review Club

THE DAMNED, Andrew Pyper

I was attracted to this book in my search for a ghost story and because it is mostly set in the suburb next to mine: Royal Oak. MI. Although there is technically a ghost in it I would classify it as a horror story more than a ghost story.

In order for the story to work, you must embrace the idea of a child born bad. I was never quite able to do this so that somewhat impeded my enjoyment of the book.

Twins are born to a family. From the beginning the girl is trouble although just how is never much discussed until the ending. Both almost die at birth and are brought back. At age sixteen, both die again in a fire and this time only the boy is saved. He has always been haunted by his sister in life and now in death, things don't change much. His ability to have a normal life is stopped at every turn.

This was a very well-written book and the setting was interesting to me. Pyper made good use of both Royal Oak and Detroit. But his sister never came to life for me-either alive or dead. There were lots of good plot twists in it, lots of great detail. But I guess I needed someone who didn't slip though my fingers every time I tried to understand her. Her name was Ash and that about sums up her presence.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK ABOUT DEMONS OR GHOSTS?

16 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Shirley Jackson (heads and shoulders above the rest)
HELL HOUSE, Richard Matheson (granted, it wouldn't exist without the Jackson)
GHOST STORY, Peter Straub


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

THE THIRD LEVEL and TIME AND AGAIN by Jack Finney. PORTRAIT OF JENNY. TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN.THE LITTLE STRANGER (Sarah Waters) TURN OF THE SCREW (James) THE OTHERS.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

After seeing the movie of PORTRAIT OF JENNY, I found the book and read it. They did a pretty good adaptation of the story on screen. I forgot Tryon's THE OTHER. Also a few Dean Koontz titles and King's THE SHINING.

Jeff M.

Deb said...

THE TURN OF THE SCREW because of its ambiguity--were there ever actually ghosts or was it simply the governess's over active imagination?

On the whole, I don't care much for ghost stories, but I like something that's ambivalent and leaves the decision up in the air. Not everything has to be explained. Also, why does every ghost have to be evil. Are there any benevolent ghosts?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Tryon was great for a while. And then...gone.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love ambiguity too and that's why often there work for me. Try LAKE MUNGO for a movie that leaves you scratching your head.

D. Saylor said...

I vote for The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

D. Saylor said...

And, here is something I forgot to mention in my vote for The Little Stranger:

I have just started a new crime fiction blog, and I invite you (and everyone else) to visit and perhaps participate by answering the inaugural question. It is difficult to get a blog off the ground, so I hope you will help me with the launch.

http://shortprosefictionreader.blogspot.com/

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved that book and I will come to call.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not happening, D. Maybe something is wrong with the address?

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Patti, it works for me now so try it again.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I just get Adrian McKinty's blog?

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks for sharing, Patti. And there are definitely some books where you almost could believe in hauntings, like ...Hill House.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

That short fiction blog worked for me yesterday but now it's gone.


Jeff M>

pattinase (abbott) said...

Something odd about it because I kept getting McKinty's blog.

Todd Mason said...

So, what distinguishes a ghost story from a horror story?

Everyone who has ever remotely enjoyed a ghost story should read M.R. James, and Fritz Leiber's "Smoke Ghost"...and Robert Aickman. I suspect more here will take a rec for Edith Wharton's ghost stories than Leiber's OUR LADY OF DARKNESS (do yourself a real favor and get one of omnibuses that pair it with the brilliant CONJURE WIFE)...but that would be a mistake. Shirley Jackson learned from Leiber. Stephen King and Peter Straub and Ray Bradbury certainly did.

Deb...there are quite a few benevolent ghosts in literature, and not a few mixed bags, such as the often cheerfully mischievous ghosts in Thorne Smith's fiction.

And then there's "Shottle Bop" by the very young Theodore Sturgeon.