The Haunting of Reindeer Manor (Part 1 of the Haunted Houses of Anderson)
Kevin Michael Guest
While I do like to read a variety of ghost stories, including fluffy, happy ending type stuff, I have to admit that I really like the darker fiction. I’ve always been drawn to movies like 13 Ghosts and House on Haunted Hill (the 1999 version). I know that some of you are rolling your eyes right now, because they’re both main stream and not entirely dark, not really anyway, but I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that I tend to be drawn to the heavier, darker end of haunting fiction.
This is one of those books. Reindeer Manor is probably actually one of the darkest pieces that I’ve reviewed for this blog in a very long time, and I have to admit that I liked the change of pace. That being said, this one will also have one of the longest lists of disclaimers for the same reason.
The major weakness I had with this short is that there’s not much new in this storyline. An almost discredited academic seeks out one of the most haunted houses he can find in Anderson, Texas and sets out to prove its haunting with the aid of a team made up of another psychologist, a psychic, his secretary, and an observer. Each member of the team has a twist or secret in their past that the house pulls from to help bring down the entire team’s destruction.
Why, yes, if you’ve seen any 90s horror that is pretty much the central plot to the Haunting of Hill House.
That being said, I actually can enjoy a piece that does a known trope and does it well. I liked this one. At 182 pages, I think the length helped with this book keeping the plot moving along fast enough that the climaxes hit where the tension was highest. There was a lot of questioning regarding motives-were the people caught up in this mess actually being manipulated by the house, or were they really just nasty people? And honestly, I thought that the dining room scene was well executed and frankly not an overused trope (though not completely original either, admittedly). My only issue with the plot as a whole is that by the final climax, the storyline jumps just frequently enough that I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on but not so much that I lost track of the overall plot.
This isn’t heavy reading or the type of horror that wants to look at themes or symbols. But it was a fun, if fairly stereotypical, read.
Now for the disclaimers: This is definitely a book for mature readers. There’s a fair amount of violence, especially towards the end. Fair to heavy amount of profanity. Implied and/or attempted sexual violence. Discussion of occult themes, though not in great detail and relevant to the plot.