The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After a personal tragedy strikes Peter and Hannah Larson, they find themselves picking up their lives and moving house. Said house isn't what it seems - something lurks within, seeming to originate from the dark and gloomy basement. As the presence continues to focus upon the two, its determination only grows, causing obvious and damaging rifts between husband and wife. It appears to already know Peter in some intimate way, and shocking, deeply hidden secrets soon come to light.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Chris Sorensen for giving me the opportunity!
This turned out to be an extremely difficult book for me to form a solid opinion on and subsequently rate. After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I didn't really consider this one an outright horror novel, at least in regards to my own personal taste. When I instead thought of it as a supernatural tale with some horror elements, it made better sense in my mind. You see, in no way did I at all feel that uncomfortable, yet riveting unease that comes with something that ticks all the right boxes in the scary department. The typical tropes were there; the ghostly encounters, the ominous house, but something also felt missing and I had one hell of a time trying to figure out what. It could've been the absence of a sufficient build up, where time is given to properly establish a sense of dread, or maybe the haunting scenes merely didn't offer anything frightful. Essentially, it wasn't my sort of horror, I'd even go so far to say it was relatively tame in the scheme of things, yet I did appreciate the storytelling - twists included.
Peter and Hannah Larson were the sort of married couple you'd roll your eyes at - they were sickeningly perfect for each other. Their chemistry jumped out from the page, and despite dealing with the anguish of great loss, they found strength. They, of course, had their faults, which became evident throughout, but that only made them more relatable as people. I liked them, and I especially liked what Sorensen did with Peter. What revolved around Peter were secrets heavily linked to his past, and whilst the revelations kept coming, I too shared in Peter's shock. The two other characters that had a significant presence - that being Riggs and Ellen Marx, added a pleasant sprinkle of entertainment. I notably enjoyed Ellen's legitimacy at being an expert; she was no quack. If I could, I'd read a book all about her.
Despite the cleverness of some aspects, I can't deny that I felt that the story dragged at times. For me, there's nothing worse than feeling the onset of boredom, and there were moments that came dangerously close to that. I felt that the first half in particular could've used more time with the couple in the house, and less time in the Blind Rock bar for instance, which is where my interest really waned. I understand such scenes were for the benefit of character development, but my engagement primarily lay with Peter.
Sorensen's imagination certainly took me by surprise as I reached the end of Peter and Hannah's ordeal. Granted, the conclusion was all rather complicated, perhaps a little too complicated to understand right away, but it surely had a distinctive quality. It's rare that I come across an ending that changes everything so drastically, to the point where I need to pause and ponder over what I just read. I applaud the bold approach to implement such a memorable outcome.
In conclusion - Whilst the horror elements didn't do it for me, I mostly liked the story and background. It definitely had its ups and downs, but Sorensen is one author I'll be keeping my eye on.
The woman rushed toward him, and for a second he thought she was going to strike him him. Instead, she took his head in both of her hands and pressed her mouth over his. Peter felt her inhale abruptly - a reverse resuscitation.
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