Sunday, September 10, 2023

Review: The September House by Carissa Orlando

by Carissa Orlando
Release Date: September 5, 2023
2023 Berkley
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593548615
Audiobook: B0BR8L2F14
Genre: Fiction / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
When Margaret and her husband Hal bought the large Victorian house on Hawthorn Street—for sale at a surprisingly reasonable price—they couldn’t believe they finally had a home of their own. Then they discovered the hauntings. Every September, the walls drip blood. The ghosts of former inhabitants appear, and all of them are terrified of something that lurks in the basement. Most people would flee.

Margaret is not most people.

Margaret is staying. It’s her house. But after four years Hal can’t take it anymore, and he leaves abruptly. Now, he’s not returning calls, and their daughter Katherine—who knows nothing about the hauntings—arrives, intent on looking for her missing father. To make things worse, September has just begun, and with every attempt Margaret and Katherine make at finding Hal, the hauntings grow more harrowing, because there are some secrets the house needs to keep.
My Thoughts
The September House was a really fun book to read. I have always loved haunted house books so I was definitely drawn to this book for that reason, but this book was so much more than just about a haunted house, it was about Margaret and her life; and the way the author unpeeled her character and the goings-on kept me riveted to the story from the first page.  

The story is quite unique, and I have read a large quantity of haunted house books. Because the story doesn't start when Margaret and Hal move into the house, this is already different as they have been dealing with the goings-on for almost four years and September is always the worst month of the year. The story starts at the beginning of September and we have learned that Hal has had enough and has left Margaret to fend for herself, and that who situation is absolutely strange.  But the writing style grabs hold of you right from the beginning and you just want to stick around and find out what is happening. And I honestly wavered from one thing to another as the story unfolded and the twists kept coming. There was one point where I really hoped the story wouldn't go where it seemed like it would go as I would have been extremely disappointed if it did, but suddenly, whoomp, another twist, and it went into another direction, thank goodness.  

Margaret was such a fascinating character, and I just loved her. Yes, there were times when I wondered if everything was okay with her mentally, but as the story progressed and the author opened up those onion layers into her life and into her personality, things slowly started making sense.  However, because of the focus on Margaret, except for Frekricka, I didn't think the secondary characters were as well-developed, so I didn't really have a lot of sympathy/empathy for their plights.  And even Margaret was so nonchalant about everything and took everything that happened in stride, sometimes with a lot of humour (which I did appreciate), that it actually lessened the overall impact of the book. It does take quite a lot to scare me as I read a lot of horror novels, but because of this, I felt like the book sort of slipped into really ''light horror" and wasn't scary at all.  There were some disturbing elements, to be sure, but sleep with the lights on? No, I slept like a baby.

The September House is highly entertaining, with a jaded main character, and a haunted house with all the elements you could want, including that creepy basement no one should ever enter.  Margaret was so entertaining as a main character that she kind of outshone the other characters, but I loved her take on the paranormal happenings around her and the way she dealt with the ghosts. I would have liked there to be creepier elements to the book, but I think the author was going for campy as opposed to really creepy.  Nonetheless, the eerie vibe just was not there for me throughout the book.  However, it was still a fun read and I do recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun haunted house read.  If you are looking for something scary and creepy, this may not be the one for you.