How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
After their parents die in a horrible car accident, squabbling siblings Louise and younger brother Mark have to deal with all the stuff left behind.
Mark wants a quick, clean break, but Louise feels like they should take their time and make sure they are not too hasty in throwing anything away. They bicker and cuss and get handsy, as siblings do, regardless of their ages. It's a horrible situation made worse when the specifics of the will are read.
The North Carolina family persuades Mark to take his time, but it's not until their realtor cousin looks at the house and detects some bad juju. She says to clean it up before they try to sell it. She believes it's haunted.
Things are made worse when Louise's five-year-old wants her back home to San Francisco immediately, and Mark stays in total jerk mode.
Oh, yeah. Their mother had a Christian Puppet Ministry. The house is full of creepy puppets and dolls.
The creepiest of the bunch is Pupkin, the puppet their mother had since her childhood.
Things definitely go from bad to real damn worse and once the story's big bad is revealed, it never slows down. To say any more would risk giving away any of the surprises Hendrix has in store for the reader.
Hendrix knows his horror history and I look forward to each new book like I look forward to a new Tarantino film. He knows what's been done, and he knows how to twist a familiar scenario and make it fresh. In his capable hands, he makes demented puppets scary again!
If I had a gripe about the book, it would be the first half, which sets up the relationship between Louise and Mark. It's typical of genre (and life!). You certainly get to know these characters, and when the horror story starts, it never looks back. (I just can't stand characters that bicker constantly. I don't like people who bicker constantly)
I suspect that when Hendrix concocts his novels, he imagines what the paperback cover would look like if his publisher was say, Zebra. (Considered the "Bone Yard" of publishers for all the skeletons decorating their covers.) It's sort of like imagining what the poster for the movie your writing will look like.
With How to Sell A Haunted House, I imagine the graphic design team at Zebra would splash a skeleton on the cover front and center. On its raised arm, a demonic-looking puppet with glowing eyes. Maybe the skeleton is standing behind a haunted looking doll house. Probably flames behind haunted doll house, in that cool reflective material they'd put on covers to give them a holographic look.
This one has a very cinematic vibe. I can easily see this being adapted into a really cool horror movie that could condense the first half of the story easily and get to the good stuff quickly.
For more Grady Hendrix, watch for It Came From Hollywood Book 4- out soon!
Book 4 includes an interview with Hendrix and Chris Poggiali about their book These Fists Break Bricks.