I absolutely love to read a good scary book. I love cracking the spine, really diving into the story and descriptions and having goosebumps go up and down my arms. Horror Mansion effectively creates a good amount of these scary moments in the first half of the book, but the scares start to dwindle off come the second half. Even though the scares seemed to have left the house, the book itself still gives you an enjoyable ride through a nightmarish situation of being driven to the point of insanity, thanks to some really nasty specters. So, let’s check out what goes bump in the night, by reading on…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: MINNIFIELD PLACE… There was an eerie, almost ghostly aura surrounding the old, rundown estate. The trees were dead, the grass was brown–everything about the house looked cold and lifeless. Except for the moving shadows… except for the buzzing flies… except for the howling winds shrieking that the dead never die in HORROR MANSION.
Horror Mansion is actually a sequel to the novel Ghost Mansion, a book that I’ve never read. So, some of the complaints that I had for this one, such as the lack of back story for the ghosts, is actually nulled, now that I’ve realized I went into this one unprepared. Don’t worry folks, I’m going to try to seek out Ghost Mansion and when I do, I’ll put up a review, but for now, let’s focus on Horror Mansion by itself.
The story has Randy, a college student who is suffering nightmares about his deceased parents, that are effecting his waking life. As a result of these hellish dreams, Randy gets kicked out of school. He decides to head back to his Grandfather’s house, leaving his wife back at college. He learns from his Grandfather, that his parents died at a mansion called Minnifield Place and Randy, now that his is turning 21, inherited the place. The Grandfather pleads for Randy to not go to the house, but he has to know the truth behind what really happened to his parents and how his dreams are connected.
Randy heads to Minnifield Place and it isn’t long for the spooky shit starts hitting the proverbially fan. It turns out that the mansion, is haunted by three ghosts, one of which is a nasty old woman named LuAnn Minnifield and the other two are her brothers. LuAnn was an awful woman when she was alive and is even more awful now that she is long dead. Randy’s wife, Cindy shows up to help him and to do a research paper on the house for her professor. Cindy doesn’t believe in the actual existence of ghosts, but does believe that certain memories can trigger paranormal activity. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize that she is in for a rude awakening, as LuAnn’s ghost is out to have Randy as her obedient sex slave for an eternity and will stop at nothing to get him, even if it means killing several people in her way, like little old Cindy.
Horror Mansion starts off pretty damn effective with the spooks, thrills and genuine scares. The character of Randy exploring the house alone, with all sorts of strange occurrences happening, combined with him having a dog with him, that can sense the supernatural, really makes for a freaky read. However, once Randy’s wife comes into the story and tries her hardest to debunk the paranormal, the scares kinda blow out the window and we dive head first into an extreme haunting, with lights flickering and things moving around and people getting thrown down stairs. Needless to say, less is better and the more the book goes on and the more craziness that happens, the more I can’t get into the story and feel scared. That isn’t to say the story is taking a hit, as I still felt invested in the characters and was really interested in seeing where everything was going to end up and if everyone was going to make it out unscathed.
The author J.N. Williamson has a certain elegant way of writing and crams the book full of information, switching back and forth between the perspective of the people being haunted, or even the ghost doing the haunting. He doesn’t leave you feeling like your bored, yet due to the fact that this was a sequel, I felt like the back story for the ghosts was severely lacking. Yet, seeing how I never read the first book, I can’t place this as a fault against this one. I can however tell you the ending felt lackluster and I’ll be honest with you, a little farfetched and almost out of place. I got this real strange sense as if I switched books and was reading a Clive Barker Hellraiser story, with demons and weird monsters in the cellar, begging for the desires of flesh. It just didn’t seem right in the overall context of the story.
Horror Mansion in the end is a good book, with an interesting and sometimes scary story, but faltered near the end. I feel like me not doing the dutiful thing and reading the first book, may have tarnished my view a little and I might’ve actually enjoyed this one even more if I did. The only true negative I can point out, is I wish the chilling first half kept it’s pace and continued on to the end. If it did just that, this book would’ve been top notch, but instead is only middle of the road, albeit a very nicely paved and haunted road.