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Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Quiet Houses

by Simon Kurt Unsworth

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I read Quiet Houses, by Simon Kurt Unsworth, because of a recommendation I saw in the Kindle Horror Facebook group. I've always been a huge fan of the haunted house story, and this book was recommended highly by another author. I assumed Mr. Unsworth was a new indie author. I was totally wrong. (Not really an unusual occurrence) Mr. Unsworth has been writing for a while and has stories in several of the Best Horror of the Year volumes as well as The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. You can find his blog here.

Quiet Houses is one of the best books I've read all year. I don't say that lightly, because let's face it, I read a lot of books this year. Some of them not even worth reviewing, but some of them quite good. I will say that this is the best "on a whim" purchase I made this year.

The book uses the "frame method" of story telling. That means that there is a beginning story that sets the premise of the book and then each of the other stories are told, and another story at the end wraps everything up tightly and ties everything together. Sometimes this method works well (think of the old movie, Dr. Terror's House of Horror. What? You've never seen it?! It's a classic, people! Chock full of old horror movie legends! *sighs* I digress...) and sometimes it doesn't work. In this book it works beautifully.

We start with the story of a research assistant, Nakata, sorting through answers to an ad he placed in the newspaper, trying to find haunted houses. He wades through them and finds a few to actually check out. Each of these houses is a seperate story in the book. Throughout the book we get more glimpses into the character and what drives Nakata himself. One of the stories in the book is his own pivotal experience with a haunting. There are eight stories in the book. It would be hard to pick a favorite, but I if I had to (you know, because someone was pointing a gun to my head, or something), I would pick number 5. It centers on a big abandoned hotel, The Ocean Grand.

And I know what you're thinking (no, not because I'm psychic), I can almost here you say it, But that's been done! It has, and it's been done so well that sometimes we begin to think that no one else can use that theme again. And that, my friends, is the beauty of this collection! Haunted houses, haunted hotels, haunted burial grounds have all been done. Yet, Mr. Unsworth manages to do them again and not bore his readers. Each tale is so quietly creepy, so dreadfully evocative, so atmospheric, that you get completely caught up in them and don't spend the whole time comparing them to other things you've read. That, in itself, is quite a feat. As is creeping me out so badly that I don't want to turn out the light. And that's what these tales did.

There's no gore. No shock for the sake of shock value. No mad slashers. No gimmicks. These tales are just pure horror. The good old fashioned kind of horror, the kind that relies on plot, atmosphere and good writing, to deliver the scare. I highly recommend this collection. I don't recommend that you read it at night, if alone in the house. Recommended for lovers of Poe, James Herbert or Barbara Eskine. (If you don't know any of those authors- look them up- they're fabulous!) Or for anyone who just likes their fear to creep up on them, slowly, from behind. ( )
1 vote Stacey.Turner | Jan 7, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0983624518, Paperback)

THE HOUSES ARE QUIET. IT IS THEIR RESIDENTS WHO ARE SCREAMING... "No-one could be that unhappy and be alive..." A chambermaid's seemingly innocent request is granted, an act of kindness that has dire consequences for the guest at THE ELMS, MORECAMBE. Human despair has a power of its own after death, and it is contagious... "I wish I had been right; I wish that it had been a man, or death alone, that had found her..." An unearthly light in an abandoned bungalow resolves the mystery of a missing child, but no human force has taken her. An entity that fishes for children is in THE MERRY HOUSE, SCALE HALL. But will it remain there? "Go beyond the graves, and they will come to you." An invitation to a clifftop graveyard leads to a harrowing chase by burrowing things that remain unseen, their hunger unknown and never satisfied, BEYOND ST PATRICK'S CHAPEL. "The great delight in being part of the Save Our Shit crew was that sometimes they could persuade those designers of the present and the future to save or incorporate the past into their designs." There is no need in THE OCEAN GRAND, NW COAST, because the original artists created a living work of art for the hotel. Art that celebrates the triumph of the natural world over the man-made. A life force that transcends - and brings death... "Something white came out. Something white, screaming and screaming..." Homes fit for heroes, they were promised after the Great War. They were given something else in THE TEMPLE OF RELIEF AND EASE. There is a hidden agenda to paranormal researcher Richard Nakata's investigations into these houses. A commission that witnesses cattle lowing in the cowsheds of STACK'S FARM long after they've been slaughtered, and a reckoning in the showhouse of 24 GLASSHOUSE, as he and his colleagues pay the price for creating their own ghost... Simon Kurt Unsworth reinvents the classic English ghost story with a portmanteau collection that takes the haunted house genre and makes it scream...quietly. Because the most terrifying screams are the silent ones. "A major new talent in the horror genre." - Pete Tennant

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:50 -0400)

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