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The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
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The House Next Door (original 1978; edition 1978)

by Anne Rivers Siddons

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6402315,108 (3.69)1 / 52
Member:sturlington
Title:The House Next Door
Authors:Anne Rivers Siddons
Info:New York : Simon and Schuster, c1978.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Haunted houses, Georgia, Suburban life, Southern, Horror fiction, reread

Work details

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons (1978)

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I found out about this book from another reader at my favorite reading challenge, R.I.P., held every fall at Stainless Steel Droppings. I highly recommend you check it out. I was expecting more of a haunted house kind of book but I would say this was a psychological thriller.

A smug, yuppy couple live next door to a piece of a vacant land. One day the land is sold and a truly evil house is erected on the spot. A succession of couples move into the house but as tragedy soon infiltrates each of their lives no one stays very long. It comes to the point that the yuppies cannot stand idly by any longer as the poison from the house starts to infect the entire neighborhood.

This book was written in the 70's and I love 70's horror kitsch. Other favorite 70's horror stories include The Shining and Ghost Story. The drinking everyone did in the 70's amazes me. Half this book is dedicated to cocktails. Everyone must have been perpetually buzzed that decade. I also love the finer sensibilities that people in the 70's possessed. People worried about manners, and things like dressing properly, living well, and impressing the neighbors. This book is a little time capsule of 70's nostalgia. Aside from capturing the 70's the possessed house story was a good one. Things didn't go bump in the night but the families who lived in the house and surrounding area suffered a psychological unraveling. This was the perfect book for me to wrap up my R.I.P. reading with. ( )
1 vote arielfl | Nov 11, 2013 |
I've read this book 3 times in the past 20 years because I liked it so much. It is one of those books that just stays with you. Siddons does a great job of building up the atmosphere in the book and creating an eerie feeling. There are no out and out scares but a general feeling of unease and unhappiness. The book does feel dated in places and the class-ism is very jarring but those things do not detract from it overall. ( )
1 vote castironskillet | Aug 13, 2013 |
This story was so against genre for A R S, that it took me completely by surprise....I found it really creepy, uncomfortable...I really liked it, read it a long time ago, may feel differently if read today...G. ( )
  Gemma. | Jun 8, 2013 |
Total late 1970s mom-book that I enjoyed reading much more than I expected.

Lots of really casual classism and racism, with a helping of homophobia (THE HOUSE MADE THEM GAY. THAT WAS THE WORST THING THAT COULD'VE HAPPENED TO THEM. THEY BECAME GAY BECAUSE OF EVIL HOUSE POWERS). Also at one point Siddons mentions out of the blue that Claire, a high-class suburban mom-character, snorted just a little bit of cocaine before coming to a Christmas party?

Col was sort of insufferable but I was charmed by Walter and I genuinely liked their relationship. I was rooting for them! Also their cats. :3

I'm not really sure why the book is discussed at length in Danse Macabre--it wasn't all that horrifying and seemed more like a vaguely paranormal thriller to me. I guess because of those issues of class/social standing, etc? ( )
  amwsmith | Apr 1, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061008737, Mass Market Paperback)

Anne Rivers Siddons is a writer of literary fiction whose one foray into the horror genre is this remarkable 1978 novel, The House Next Door. The setting is a wealthy suburb in Atlanta where an ambitious young architect is building a dramatically contemporary house. The novel uses a frame device to put three short stories under a single cover: as each of three families moves into the house in succession, we watch the bad things that happen to them and eventually force them to leave. But the frame itself--the observations of an urbane and sophisticated couple who live next door and become close friends with the architect--is the most deeply involving story in the book.

Stephen King was so impressed by The House Next Door that when he wrote Danse Macabre, his personal tour of the horror genre, he sought out Siddons for an interview. She told him, "The haunted house has always spoken specially and directly to me as the emblem of particular horror. Maybe it's because, to a woman, her house is so much more than that: it is kingdom, responsibility, comfort, total world to her.... It is an extension of ourselves; it tolls in answer to one of the most basic chords mankind will ever hear.... So basic is it that the desecration of it, the corruption, as it were, by something alien takes on a peculiar and bone-deep horror and disgust."

Siddons was also fascinated by how the supernatural has the power to disturb the complacent rich and their comfortable little world: "What has the unspeakable and the unbelievable got to do with second homes and tax shelters and private schools for the kids and a pâté in every terrine and a BMW in every garage? Primitive man might howl before his returning dead and point; his neighbor would see, and howl along with him.... The resident of Fox Run Chase who meets a ghoulie out by the hot tub is going to be frozen dead in his or her Nikes on the tennis courts the next day if he or she persists in gabbling about it. And there he is, alone with the horror and ostracized on all sides. It's a double turn of the screw."

One caveat: some people find the ending a false note that mars the effect. Even so, The House Next Door is an exquisite horror novel. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Thirtysomething Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of newly bustling Atlanta, Georgia. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they'd believed would always remain undeveloped. Disappointed by their dimished privacy, Colquitt and Walter soon realize something more is wrong with the house next door. Surely the house can't be "haunted" yet it seems to destroy the goodness of every person who comes to live in it, until the entire heart of this friendly neighborhood threatens to be torn apart.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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