Book Review: The Haunted by Bentley Little

The Haunted - Bentley Little

The Basics

The Perrys are having trouble in their neighborhood and decide to move. They’re fairly sorry they did when they’re beset by nightmares, apparitions, eerie neighbors, and something in the basement.

My Thoughts

I don’t like ghost stories. And yet I keep coming back. Because there are some that are scary despite ghosts being so unscary. Like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Shining by Stephen King, just to name a couple. This is not among those ranks, sadly. I’d hoped it would be, because Little does have a penchant for taking an old idea and make it shiny and new. He tries here, but it wasn’t enough.

I say he tries, but in some ways the writing here is damn lazy. I don’t remember the names of any of the main characters, which is telling. His attempts to write a teenage girl in the family fell horribly flat in many ways. By the time the end rolled around and things were dire, I barely cared. So not great in the character department.

There were also times when it felt like he was trying to throw in everything but the kitchen sink as far as scares. He threw the whole batch at the wall, and some moments stick and some don’t. Definitely don’t look for subtlety here though, as we get everything from the daughter being threatened with ghost rape to faces in the toilet to the son uncontrollably eating dirt to poltergeists to… The list doesn’t end. I understand that most hauntings, whether “real” or fictional, tend to have a lot of different signs and omens regarding an unseen entity in the house, but this got really ridiculous. That was part of the fun, part of what saved it from being terrible, but it also leaves me at a loss when trying to describe what happened. Everything happened. Every single thing you could imagine and some you can’t.

It did have some very scary moments. One of the aspects of this particular haunting is that the house compels people to stay, to come inside, to not run or save themselves. That was played with nicely, often ramped up the suspense, and resulted in some truly jarring moments.

But would I recommend it? If you love haunted house stories, probably. Because I’m aware that part of my problem is a numbness toward that horror sub-genre. For me, as much as Little tried, it doesn’t shine, if you get my drift.

Final Rating