How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
Publication Date: January 17, 2023
Summary from Goodreads:
Grady Hendrix takes on the haunted house in a thrilling new novel that explores the way your past—and your family—can haunt you like nothing else.
When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world.
Most of all, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. Unfortunately, she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.
But some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…
I have never found dolls or puppets all that creepy, but I may need to rethink that after reading this book. Creepy puppets aside, this was an interesting take on sibling rivalry and how often children become their worst selves when their parents die. This also dealt with the themes of grief and childhood emotional abuse.
Louise and Mark were not very nice people and it was hard to feel sympathy for either of them. They were both carrying a lot of baggage from their childhoods, and it showed in their interactions throughout this book. I felt sorry for both of them, but it was hard to read about their petty grievances against each other at the start of this book. There is a lot of growth for both of them throughout the novel, but not quite enough to make me like them.
I liked that the book was broken into sections that related to the different stages of grief, but the things that went on in those sections didn’t always seem to relate to that stage. Also, I was able to pretty quickly figure out what was going on with Pupkin, the creepy puppet, and the house haunting, so it was hard to keep an interest in the story that seemed to drag on. There was also quite a bit of graphic violence in the middle of the book, so much so that it almost made me dnf the book. I’m usually ok with graphic violence, but this seemed over the top and at the time unnecessary. But once you get past that, the story gets a bit better.
Let’s talk about Pupkin. As far as creepy puppets go, he was pretty creepy. Especially the way he seemed to always make his way back into their lives, even after they thought he was destroyed. Their mother’s obsession with him was also a bit over done, as was some of her other creepy puppets and dolls. The way Pupkin was able to control other dolls and people puts him way up on the creepy scale. I am still on the fence with the creepy taxidermied squirrel nativity scene. That sounds just weird enough to be real.
I’m not sure if I can recommend this one or not. I guess it depends on how well you handle horror and graphic violence. This one felt way more graphic and violent than his other two books that I have read. It also seemed to drag quite a bit, and with such unlikable characters, I found myself wanting it to just be over already. The ending was good, better than I expected, and I liked how they were finally able to get rid of Pupkin. So I guess I am recommending this if you like horror, or if you know what you are getting yourself into.