Title: The Halloween Children
Writer: Brian James Freeman & Norman Prentiss
Publishing House: Earthling Publications
Date of Publication: October 2014
Rating: 3 stars
“If my jokes had anything to do with what happened to our family that Halloween, I’m really sorry. I wish I could take it all back.”
When you behave as if your children are idiots, when you don’t respect their individuality and try to appear smart with jokes that are colder than Siberia during the winter, when you threaten and refuse to listen, then the fault lies with you. That’s what’s given to Harris and Lynn, two of the main candidates for the Worst Parents Ever in the History of Literature award….
Harris is a handyman who lives in a block of flats with his wife and two children, Mattie and Amber. Harris’ employer decides to cancel the annual Halloween festivities in their premises under the pretext of security issues. As if this wasn’t enough, Lynn forbids her children from anything that has to do with Halloween and all Hell breaks loose. Or does it?
This is a simplistic summary, because it’s very risky to disclose parts of the story. There are many layers, many red herrings and quite a few frightening moments. There are certain chilling instances, mostly focusing on the children that made me stop reading and try to predict what’s going to come next. However, while the story is ambitious and interesting, the book suffers from its characters and the number of gimmicks that grow old after a while.
Now, while the descriptions are excellent in creating a heavily foreboding feeling and the dialogue is fairly adequate, the characters are frustrating. Of course, I know that I probably shouldn’t complain about it. After all, it’s a Halloween thriller, not Dostoevsky. What complexity should I expect? And yet, I’ve read many books in the genre that had characters who rivaled the mystery of the plot. Here, frustration has no end.
Harris is an idiot. He takes nothing seriously, he chooses sides and favours one of his children in a very narrow-minded way and can’t put two and two together. Same problems arise with his wife. Lynn is very unlikable right from the start. “Unlikable” doesn’t even begin to describe it.She talks about “family time” when each family member when is either staring at their bloody phones or surfing the internet. She is a horrible, despicable person, unfit to be a mother.Unfit to be anything, really. Her idea of motherhood is so terribly misshapen that I felt uncomfortable while reading her chapters and I am neither a mother nor a wife. What mother favours one of her children blindly while thinking that her second child is Satan incarnate? Lynn isn’t a human being, she’s a creature devoid of any soul or feelings. A heartless, hateful woman with an ego bigger than the size of Europe. Because of her, I understood why many readers abandon a book because they hated the characters so much. If it hadn’t for curiosity and the well-structured atmosphere, I would have abandoned it early.
Props to the writers that chose to end their story in the way they did. It was fairly unpredictable and satisfying, in my opinion. If you choose to read it, keep your mind open because you’ll have to suspend disbelief. Keep your calm because there are quite a few gruesome scenes and keep your patience with the stupidity of the couple. It is an atmospheric, well-written thriller without being campy. It’s just that there are better books of the genre out there.