The House Next Door by Darcy Coates

The House Next Door by Darcy Coates

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 42. An indie read

Other Possible Prompts: 17. A book picked based on its spine, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name

This is my very first Darcy Coates novel and I have to say, I’m more impressed than I thought I would be! I’ve been reluctant to pick up Coates in the past because the cover art looked rather amateurish, or it just didn’t have the hype around it to make me think it was a good novel…and while this didn’t blow me away, it was a fun read and I will definitely pick up some more.

After the previous family residing at Marwick House leaves their home in the middle of the night to gunshots and never returns, Jo decides that the house next door really must be haunted. Months later, young and hopeful Anna moves in, fleeing a bad past and determined to make a go of it in spite of the home’s history. Despite Jo’s reluctance to be near Marwick House, she becomes fast friends with Anna and spends more and more time inside the Marwick residence…and it quickly becomes clear something isn’t right with it.

Through creepy encounters, mediums, and history lessons from their neighbors, Jo and Anna unearth the disturbing history of the Marwick House and the ghost that resides within it.

There really is nothing special about this book exactly, but I love that it reads like a good horror movie. Blumhouse could buy up a Coates’ novel and just hand them to their directors, honestly. As a fan of horror in both its literary and film forms, I was totally down for this. If this is what Coates’ other novels are like, I can see the draw and the appeal. I’ve seen plenty of them in bookstores, I just didn’t realize they were actually good…I like the cover art of this one okay, but I don’t recall caring for the others, so I never picked them up. I’ve just never been very interested in reading one, but I was at Book Warehouse recently and it was only five dollars, soooo…worth a shot!

I also wasn’t terribly attached to the characters, which I suppose is a good thing for a horror book. You never know who won’t make it to the end alive. However, I could visually imagine them, as well as the setting of the story, very easily. I think that was more important for the atmospheric horror that Coates was creating. The story never leaves the neighborhood, and so you have this feeling of being trapped in the presence of the house and its inhabitant, just like the characters, who tend be so blank-slate that you can step in and be part of the story very easily. The characters were flat but I think in this case, that’s totally fine. The history of the haunting and the ghost herself were very well fleshed out and didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

I don’t have tons to say about this one. It’s an easy 230 pages, and if I had actually had time to read this week, I could’ve finished it in an afternoon. It’s very quick. I definitely think I will try another Darcy Coates based on this book; the premise of this one wasn’t even my favorite so I think there’s potential to enjoy another one more. Any recommendations from people who have read more?

Have an awesome weekend!

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 30. Audiobook is narrated by the author

Other Possible Prompts: 21. Published by Simon & Schuster, 25. A wealthy character, 29. Over 500 pages long, 37. Set in a rural area, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre

After listening to Bag of Bones this week it has swiftly become one of my favorite King novels. I love the paranormal aspect, the creepy history, and the depth of this story that becomes more and more realized with each passing page. Aaaand I get to fill the read by the author prompt without listening to a memoir?? Major win.

After the unexpected death of his wife and his subsequent writers block, author Mike Noonan packs up and heads for their summer home just outside of Castle Rock, Maine: Sara Laughs. Just as soon as he arrives, it seems that the home and whatever is growing within it has called out for him personally.

With a chance encounter on the fourth of July, he meets young widowed mother Mattie Devore and her daughter Kyra, who are in the throngs of a custody battle with her millionaire father-in-law, Max Devore. The more time Mike spends with the Devores, the larger the connection grows between them, and the more history he unearths – but despite the haunting that’s creeping in around Mike at Sara Laughs, he knows he can’t leave just yet…

This is a damn good ghost story is what this is. I love a good ghost story, and this one nails it perfectly. Just the right amount of intrigue with a touch of cold air on the back of your neck, and this hits the sweet spot. The story in Bag of Bones is incredibly dramatic and compelling even without the paranormal, but that part of it is just the perfect King touch.

There are some King books that I will simply never read and don’t feel the need to, but I was actually pulled into the idea of reading Bag of Bones after a chance recollection that I had seen the made-for-tv movie of it as a pre-teen. And if you know the subject matter of Bag of Bones, you know it’s not really the kind of scary movie a twelve year old should be watching. My mother found me watching it right towards the tail end, and promptly asked me to turn it off: so I never saw the end of it. Going into this book, I remembered some of the story, especially the more gruesome parts that had haunted me, but I didn’t remember enough to make this book unenjoyable or unsurprising. I really liked this call back and enjoying it at an older age.

I know I’m a frequent proponent of getting King a better editor, but this is one time where I couldn’t get enough of it all. I wasn’t bogged down by the setting descriptions, wasn’t bored by the interspersed dream retellings, certainly wasn’t hating on all the character relationships and dynamics. This is why I really feel like this is one of my favorites. The story carries itself without needing the benefit of being under five hundred pages. King had me from page one to page five hundred forty-four.

I also liked Mike Noonan a great deal more than I like most of King’s men (ha, ha). He’s far more likeable and his relationship with Ky is emotionally compelling. He feels less misogynistic, more thoughtful and caring, even if he is more sharply male in the way King seems to write them, if you know what I mean. Mike was just an alright main character, and I rooted for him in the way I rooted for Mattie and Ky as well.

While I don’t love the background of Sara Tidwell and the Red Top Boys – music/performing as a narrative just isn’t something that interests me, as I’ve mentioned before – their historical importance and the way their presence ties race and racism into the story is masterful. Additionally, having listened to the audiobook, having their jams come through my speakers once in a while was fine by me, too. It becomes more of a theatrical show than a book at that point!

Overall, I think it’s pretty clear that I enjoyed Bag of Bones. It’s definitely going to be one of my new favorite King novels, alongside The Mist and Gwendy’s Button Box. If I liked this one, what others would you recommend? (I’ve read The Shining, It, Carrie, Pet Sematary, all of the Button Box books, Elevation, Cujo, Sleeping Beauties, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and of course, The Mist…I had no idea I’d read that many, to be honest, and I don’t think I would’ve bothered to list them all out if I knew there was that many lol).

Have an awesome week, peeps!