Review: “The House that Hell Built,” Shaw, Keane, Bray

Pros: Well, it is a horror novel, which was what I wanted to read at the time
Cons: Time-bounced excessively; many misused words
Rating: 2 out of 5

Shaw, Keane, and Bray’s The House That Hell Built is a moderately interesting haunted house tale. In it, tourists go to stay in a reputed haunted house and and bad things happen. I know, that sounds like half of the horror stories out there. Still, that is the premise.


Just a short time in, I read these words:

“…roamed his leery, wisacre gaze over the newcomers…”

If you are a person with a decent vocabulary–i.e, most writers–you’re probably stunned by that one. You have to know what the words you’re using mean. This is an author who does not understand the word ‘leery’ nor the word ‘wisacre’ [sic]. I should have taken that as a sign not to read the book, but I was really in a horror story frame of mind, so I soldiered on. I’m sure you can understand that these are not the only words that get misused. (“…with defiled embarrassment…” is another one I happened to notice.)

The story keeps bouncing back and forth between 1967–when a family came to live in the house–and the present (when a bunch of tourists want to look through the local haunted house). It does it incredibly frequently, confusing the hell out of me. If the author really needed to show so much of the past (and frankly I think it just muddled the story to have so much past detail), then the better choice would have been to show each story in larger chunks rather than this constant back-and-forth.

It isn’t particularly necessary to go into the characters. I kept forgetting their names, and again, having those two time periods kept me confused. People seemed to resort to violence and killing awfully quickly; even the bad guy says “This must be a new record.” Unfortunately acknowledging the problem doesn’t fix it.

I don’t find myself wanting to read any of the authors’ other work.

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