Have you ever faced something in your personal life which was so overwhelming that you just needed to escape? Running as far away from such troubles as possible in hopes of ultimately finding greener pastures in life. Unfortunately, people who attempt to “disappear” often find out that the grass is not so green on the other side of the fence. In fact, they may frequently find themselves facing even greater challenges than they did originally. If such notions intrigue you, then The Haunting of Hope House by author Astrid Addams may strike your fancy. It is a virtual case study about characters jumping out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire…in this case, a horrific and haunted one!
The story basically revolves around Alice Stone and her family, which consists of her brother, son and daughter. Alice’s tale is indeed a sad one. After her husband landed himself in major trouble with loan sharks, he decided to escape the situation by killing himself and leaving his family destitute in the process. To make matters worse, the “shark” in question has evil intentions and designs for both Alice and her daughter Madison. Faced with such an impossible situation, Alice enlists her brother Gary’s help, but things just do not seem to be improving and the future looks less than bright.
However, one day straight out of the blue Alice finds out that she has inherited a home called Hope House. It is her deepest wish that this will be the break she needs and it will turn her life around. A brand new family home! What Alice and her family do not realize however is that the home is haunted and possessed by evil spirits. Soon after they arrive the spirits of the house unleash their evil on the terrified family. To make things worse, the sadistic loan shark has found out where they are and is coming to collect his debt… one way or another! Will Alice and her family fall victim to their deadly foes? Or is there simply more to all of this than meets the eye?
The plot of this novel is based upon the classic haunted house scenario. It contains the typical creepy noises, slamming doors and various pieces of furniture moving around all by themselves. It is unquestionably based upon a good versus evil theme which is supported by aspects of the paranormal and horror genres. The author makes a good attempt to utilize such elements as fear and suspense to keep the reader engaged in the tale. Nevertheless, the story comes off with an “unfinished” feel to it. There are unfortunately numerous errors which should have been caught in the editing and proofreading stage. I tend not to focus upon small errors when I am reading and reviewing, unless they ultimately distract me from fully enjoying the book. In this instance that was exactly the case. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good ideas in this story. The author did not just simply rely upon typical haunted house cliches to come up with the tale. The actual history of Hope House for instance is quite fascinating. However, more development in all areas is needed. I just cannot get past the feeling that this story was put together too quickly, ignoring some critical components of the writing process.
In regards to the various characters in the novella, there is once again a lot of promise. The emotions and intrinsic fears of the various players are presented quite well. Getting into their minds and being able to perceive their individual motivations and fears certainly contributes to the “scare factor” of the piece. However, there are some missed opportunities once again. For instance, Madison is a critical character in regards to plot development. For the sake of believability and engagement, more background about her and her special gift needs to be given. Developing the characters in greater depth would have been quite helpful to the story.
Overall, I liked the story. I read it from start to finish as I feel there are some very good ideas here. Nevertheless the actual execution of these ideas needs to be refined in many areas so that these great story events can be fully appreciated by the reader.
2 out of 5 Spooky Stars for this one!