Title: The House In The Hills
Writer: Rowan Hanlon
Publishing House: Reverberator Books
Date of Publication: June 5th 2018
Rating: 1 star
You know, sometimes the book industry reminds me of today’s Hollywood. They lack the stories and the scriptwriters, resorting to an absurd recycling of the success of the past, creating ridiculous remakes that wouldn’t even achieve a limited distribution a few decades ago. And if they decide to transfer a novel to the silver screen or the TV, eight times out of ten, they butcher its brains out. Now, this book here desperately tried to become a modern adaptation of Burnt Offerings, right down to the retro feeling. The similarities were obvious. The result, in my opinion, was a hot mess. Hotter than Hell, actually. No pun intended.
Harmony and Matt is a young married couple with perfect appearance and perfect jobs but they haven’t yet obtained the perfect house. Their apartment is too small and humble for the incredibly tall, handsome Matt and Harmony with the oh so perfect, famous food blog. This information is emphasized countless times in the first chapters and needless to say, this makes for a very interesting read. NOT. Anyway, they find a house in the Hills, in Los Angeles, a real opportunity since the price is too low. Naturally, even though Harmony knows there’s something wrong, the house becomes theirs and all the haunted problems begin.
The only interesting characteristic in this novel is the setting. The choice of an attractive, retro, stylish house instead of a dark, foreboding Georgian mansion was refreshing. But why do I need to know every detail about it? From the tiles of the oh so perfect kidney-shaped pool to the oh so perfect steel appliances? The writing was a nightmare. God, it was such an amateurish effort…We are given information we don’t need over and over again. There was a multitude of spelling mistakes and expressions that were horrid. I mean, ‘’a plate of food’’? Why? Why? What other kind of plate could it be? A plate of grass? Bits and pieces like this were scattered all over the story and made it sound silly. A 15-year-old’s poetry project is more literary than this.
Soon enough, I expected to find every horror cliché imaginable and I wasn’t disappointed. Even for a haunted house story, certain things were too implausible, in my opinion. One has to have a real talent in order to make the reader suspend all disbelief and this didn’t happen here. Furthermore, what was the use for all the soap-opera hints? Not to mention that the conclusion can easily be predicted by the time a certain character makes her second appearance? Also, dear writer, don’t use cats to advance the plot. Their use is too predictable. The dialogue was painfully bad. Full of hysterics and cringe-worthy, unrealistic behaviour. And is it some kind of new fashion for writers to include an f-word every other sentence?
In my opinion, if the writer tried to create a 21st-century version of Marasco’s Burnt Offerings, he failed miserably. The only thing I found worthy was the beautiful cover. Unfortunately, as much as I’m always game for stories of haunted houses, I thought this was so bad that I stopped caring before I was halfway through. No. Simply, no.
Many thanks to Reverberator Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.