Friday, February 14, 2014

My review of Joe McKinney's "Crooked House".

Meet Robert Bell, a normal guy. He has a loving wife named Sarah, and a young step-daughter named Angela. Sure he's got problems, but he's dealing with them. He's a family man... Look a little deeper, and the chinks in his armor start to show. Drowning in bills; increasingly more erratic. An emotional outburst has gotten him fired from his teaching position, and still he tries to keep everything pent up inside. Imagine the pressure he must feel, and don't you think he might just need one last push, before it all comes boiling out? This is the man we are introduced to in Joe McKinney's "Crooked House", a man on the verge of breakdown, who is lying to himself about the state he is in. Robert is on the verge of going under, when an old mentor swoops in, offering not only a job teaching, but a house free and clear. Upon inspecting the property, Robert is definitely struck with a feeling of uneasiness, but allows himself to be won over by his friend. This is the lifeline he needed, after all, yes? Returning home in high spirits he is confused about his wife's negativity towards the situation. Then the two are hit with the news that Sarah's ex is trying to take away their daughter. All of these ups and downs and they haven't even moved into the house yet. Plus, there is the curious attitude that Sarah has to Robert's mentor, Thom Horner. By attitude I mean outright contempt. After moving in, and having ever increasing episodes of paranormal incidents, Robert begins to research the past history of Crook House, and of it's previous owner, James Crook. He gradually puts together the pieces of the horrid events that brought the Crook family low. Unfortunately, the past seems to be repeating itself, and Robert, Sarah, and Angela are caught in the middle. Will they manage to survive? I'm not telling, but here's my thoughts on the story. The fact that the author has the narrative switch from Robert to Sarah is a very good move. You get to compare their viewpoints and make up your own mind on the truth of things, and watch events fall apart. In my opinion, while the story is nominally about a haunted house setting, I think that the two big themes are about the pressures cast on everyday people, and about the past not remaining buried. Both Robert's and Sarah's past actions not only come back to haunt them, but also keep them stuck in the present situation that is pulling them apart. For that matter, past events and actions of the previous occupants of 'Crooked House' are what came to curse the property. Not to worry though, horror fans. There is plenty of scares in store for you with this read. The story is definitely a page turner, and the author's depiction of a family beset by forces mundane and supernatural rings true. I'd been curious about this book for awhile, and I'm glad I took the opportunity to read it. A very good release from Joe McKinney and Dark Regions Press.

Crooked House on Amazon      Dark Regions Press site

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