So, you may have guessed that the issue lies in that none of these aspects play out well; or I should say – to my own satisfaction. The “ghost story” ends up being a few pages of nothing spooky. The serial killer is just – whatever. Nothing is really resolved with the family, and what little closure is given seems pointless.
Now, Spoilers: The ghost, Lucy, is the daughter of a serial killer from long ago, who was the cousin of Mark’s mother. When the ghost shows up, all she wants to do is fuck Mark, and bring him into her world. Mark says ok. The End. And, unless I got confused – and I don’t think this is really said in the book – but Mark is banging his own ghost cousin – once removed, of course.
His mother kills herself, and that is one of the two main mysteries. The explanation of that seems to be that she couldn’t face knowing what she knew about what happened in the house, and that didn’t seem – real. So, in the end, the ghost story has no scares, and the serial killer story just kind of, ends. We have a pretty decent backstory on what happened in the house before, and that was undoubtedly the most satisfying part of the book. Then, we have an ending of two young people banging throughout time and space, sending poorly written emails, and badly shot videos to an uncle that I was never convinced was necessary to the story.
Still, the book gets three stars based off of Straub’s writing alone. He is one of the best, there is no doubt about that, and in the hands of a lesser writer, I would never have finished this book. I feel like there is some underlying level of clarity here that I just didn’t find. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that In the Night Room is actually a direct sequel, so maybe that adds something, and I will probably give it a whirl at some point. Also, Timothy Underhill, the writer uncle, is in some of Straub’s other books (that I also haven’t read), So maybe that justifies his placement in this book somehow.
[A] wonderful webwork of a book…It’s funny, and heartwarming, and genuinely scary.”
Sorry Mr. Gaiman, I love everything that you and your wife do, but none of that is true.