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Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi
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Floating Staircase

by Ronald Malfi

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14915119,805 (3.91)19

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book. It was a slow and comfortable read. It had a small-town feel to the setting and despite being set in Maryland, it didn't really feel like it. I would have guessed more mid-west but in reality that is neither here nor there. The story was good but at the same time it felt like there should have been more.

Travis Glasglow is a writer. After the success of his latest novel, he and his wife move next to his brother in a small town in western Maryland. A short while later, Travis learns a little of the tragic drowning death of the young boy who used to live at his house. A death that seems to mirror the drowning death of Travis's younger brother when Travis was 13. The guilt of one sparks the ghost of another and Travis finds himself obsessed with finding answers.

On the surface, this novel seemed to have a lot going for it: two deaths of young boys who either one could be haunting the main character, a mystery to resolve, a winter environment that adds as much character and suspense as any other part of the novel. As I mentioned earlier though, it seemed like there should have been more to the story. Something deeper to explain the events. Or maybe an "ah ha!" moment as the surprise revelation is made. But none of that is here. Instead the tension and spookiness is built up slowly through suspense and introspection. Through repeated small events that illustrate how much Travis has lost it. To steal a quote from the book, the story "... didn’t strike me all at once like an epiphany but rather it gradually trickled in, filling all the recesses and crevices and gouges of my brain like black water into a pair of drowning lungs." And if nothing I said has enticed you to read the book, then that quote definitely should. ( )
  dagon12 | Dec 7, 2018 |
A perfectly acceptable ghost-story-murder-mystery, with some particularly vivid dream sequences. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jul 28, 2017 |
Travis Glasgow has just moved to a very small town where his older brother lives. He and his wife love the old house, but as soon as they move in strange things start to happen. A tiny, hidden room in the basement is found. Unexplainable noises come from the dark. Things are moved around when no one is touching them. It turns out a young boy died on the property, and the more Travis finds out, the more he thinks that it wasn't an accident, and he sets out to prove it, or, really, becomes obsessed with figuring it out. This puts a strain on his marriage, his relationship with his brother, and calls into question his mental state, since his own younger brother died as a boy.

Is the ghost of the young boy trying to get Travis to solve a crime? Or is Travis's long held guilt feelings over his brother's death taking over his mind? It's hard to tell; we're kept guessing up to the end of the story. A well earned 5 stars.

( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Travis is forever haunted by the drowning of his younger brother, for which he feels a sense of responsibility. He is a horror writer whose books reflect a drowning/water theme over and over. He and his wife move into an old house near a lake. They learn that a boy who previously lived there had drowned in the lake, and his body was never recovered. Odd things happen which make Travis think that the boy's ghost is reaching out to him, and Travis becomes obsessed with the notion that the child was murdered. He drops his current writing project to focus on a new book about the child's death.

This was pretty good. It was a ghost story that kept the haunting subtle and creepy, not over-the-top like a lot of modern horror stories. It was, for the most part, very well written. I liked the atmospheric descriptive passages, though on one or two occasions Malfi's use of metaphor and simile was a little heavy-handed. The real focus of the story was less on the paranormal events, and more on Travis's guilt over his brother's death and his obsession with the boy who drowned near their home, and how it impacts his mental state and relationships with others. In fact, he becomes unstable enough that the reader might easily wonder if the haunting is all in his mind. But the author does a good job of creating a spooky atmosphere and building up tension.

Travis repeatedly voices a strong sense that books and writing should be honest -- perhaps a reaction against how he has hidden the details of his brother's death even from those closest to him.

I liked the Western Maryland setting, and mention of familiar places like Frostburg and Cumberland. I do wonder why Malfi felt the need to invent a Frostburg Medical Center that is brick and looks like a castle and houses a cancer ward; the real Frostburg Medical Center is an urgent care center (no inpatients) in a shopping plaza. (So much for honesty in writing.) That little quibble aside, this was a pretty well-written novel for those who like a little spookiness, a bigger dose of psychological tension, and a great twist at the end. ( )
  tymfos | Jun 2, 2015 |
Nearly from the first page, this book took me in and held me in thrall, keeping me reading long past the point at which my eyes were needing a break. For a horror novel, this book is frighteningly believable, and the characters are just so flawed and believable as to make you ache for each of their missteps and difficulties. Malfi's smooth writing and smart pacing are the added bonuses that make this book a wonderfully engaging read.

All together, any reader of suspense novels or ghost stories is going to fall headlong into this book, only to be able to surface days later.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
"Because he is my brother, I will suffer a thousand deaths to vindicate his."
--Alexander Sharpe, The Ocean Serene
"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald, in an undated letter to his daughter
Dedication
For Darin,

Jonathan,

and Samantha--

The beauty of this mystery...
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It has been said that nature does not know extinction.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
To Travis and Jodie Glasgow, the house in the idyllic small town seems perfect, the surrounding woods and lake like a postcard. But soon after they move in, things begin
to . . . change. Strange noises wake Travis at night. His dreams are plagued by ghosts. Barely glimpsed shapes flit through the darkened hallways—shapes bearing a frightening resemblance to a little boy. Footprints appear. Strangest of all are the wooden stairs rising cryptically from the lake.

The more Travis investigates, the more he uncovers the house’s violent and tragic past . . . and the more he learns that some secrets can’t be buried forever.

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"To Travis and Jodie Glasgow, the house in the idyllic small town seems perfect, the surrounding woods and lake like a postcard. But soon after they move in, things begin to change. Strange noises wake Travis at night. His dreams are plagued by ghosts. Barely glimpsed shapes flit through the darkened hallways--shapes bearing a frightening resemblance to a little boy. Footprints appear. Strangest of all are the wooden stairs rising cryptically from the lake. The more Travis investigates, the more he uncovers the house's violent and tragic past and the more he learns that some secrets can't be buried forever."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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Medallion Press

4 editions of this book were published by Medallion Press.

Editions: 1605424366, 1605424595, 1605424609, 160542448X

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