Sunday, September 5, 2010

Anne Rivers Siddons: The House Next Door

This novel is not one you would automatically associate with Rivers Siddons; it was published in 1978, toward the end of the Gothic novel craze. It's a Gothic horror novel about a house that isn't right. Bad things happen to those who live there.

Colquitt (I love that name! I guess it's because I'm a Southern gal at heart) and her husband Walter Kennedy are wealthy Atlanta suburbanites who watch a new house going up next door to them. They become friends with the architect, Kim, and then the strange things begin happening. Pie and Buddy are a young couple who move in and have horror set upon them. Another couple receives calls from the grave that are apt for the time period of the novel. Still other inhabitants' lives spin into utter chaos and horror. Even the architect is not immune from the evil of the house. Neighbors are also affected by the house sexually and otherwise. This novel is not one to read late at night as it is quite frightening.

Characterization: 4/5 [I liked most of the characters though some complain that they are annoying rich people. I found them to be real and even sympathetic.]

Plot: 5/5 [The tension never lets up in this novel, and I think the story unfolds beautifully to make one's skin crawl.]

Atmosphere/spooky stuff: 5/5 [Yes, the house is a silent watcher, but an active participant in the fate of those in and around it. This novel is not your typical "things that go bump in the night," but it is creepy and made it tough for me to sleep for a week after I read it. I still think about it years later and remember much of it vividly.]

Literary: 4/5 [The novel is smart, but it does not turn upon literary witticisms, etc.]

Romance: Yes, to an extent. There are several couples in the novel, and at one point, there are hints of more than friendship between Colquitt and Kim.

Rating: 4+ stars      ****.5

I highly recommend this novel as a primary one in the Gothic genre. It is often included in top 100 lists for haunted house novels and even horror novels. If you would like a crack at winning this during the September contest, just make a comment below or in any of the other blog entries. :)


Todd Jeffries said...

This sounds like a books that's right up my alley. I love houses that don't feel quite right. I just finished reading Jay Shaffer's The Small House Book, about the tiny house movement. He details how architectural design is layered with symbolic meanings that date back thousands of years and in many instances are universal. I can see how a house that isn't designed quite right might feel "off" in some way that we can't quite put our finger on. Whether haunted or not, it can certainly stir within us dark imaginings.

lisalgreer said...

That books sounds pretty amazing, Todd. I agree with you on design. I think symmetry, balance, etc. is pretty important to most of us...

Todd Jeffries said...

I found a copy of this book at my favorite used bookstore yesterday. I love your blog! It's gotten me back in touch with my reading roots: those long endless summer days and late nights lost in Gothic tales and horror stories.

lisalgreer said...

I hope you enjoy it! I loved this novel; I wish Rivers Siddons had done more in the genre. I guess it's possible she still might...

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