Cherie Priest “The Family Plot” (Tor, 2016)
I had some trouble reading this book. Not because there was anything wrong with the book, or the writing. In fact the opposite was true. Cherie Priest told such a compelling haunted house story that I was a bit too freaked out to read. Sometimes I just had to put the book down & walk away.
Horror is a bit like comedy in that it’s hard to extrapolate what will provoke emotion in someone else. But I don’t know when I’ve been more scared by a book. Wow.
What is it? A small family owned salvage company is trying to demo an abandoned estate outside of Chattanooga. They have everything riding on this job, they can’t walk away from it. But once they start the job they realize that the house and grounds are haunted. Intriguingly, this isn’t a deal breaker for them. Ghosts weren’t the problem, they seem to be an occupational hazard. It was the fact that the ghosts are angry and want to hurt them that poses the problem.
It’s a great setup and it answers so many of those pesky questions from ghost stories such as why don’t they leave? Great characters and writing make it all work so well.
I think I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how much I enjoyed the Southernness of all of this. There are ghosts and abandoned rundown estates. More importantly you have families with all their dysfunction and love. And there are secrets, plenty of secrets.
I really can’t recommend this one highly enough. Don’t wait for next Halloween. Go on & read it on a dark fall night.