Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: "House of Echoes" by Brendan Duffy

A special thank you to Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: House of Echoes
Author: Brendan Duffy
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine
Pub Date: April 14, 2015

In this debut thriller, Ben and Caroline Tierney have bought the Crofts, an old stone mansion near the village of Swannhaven in the mountains of remote upstate New York. They plan to turn it into a destination inn. They think that remodeling the house will provide their family with the stability they all need. Ben is a novelist, Caroline recently lost her banking job and has been battling her bi-polar disorder. Their older son is Charlie, who was being bullied in his school. After a bullying incident in which Charlie was missing, the family decides to get out of the city.

At first, the move seems like a good idea. Caroline's bi-polar symptoms are under control and she is throwing herself into the renovations on the inn. Charlie is enjoying exploring the woods surrounding the home, and Ben has found a topic for his next book. However, things began to turn quickly. Ben is finding dead animals left on their door step. Charlie isn't telling his parents about the "Watcher" mysterious person that he thinks he sees in the woods. Caroline is hiding the fact that she is going off her meds. This soon leads to tension that is set to tear everything apart.

Ben starts to interact with townspeople and begins to explore the history of the house and the Swann family. He discovers that the house has been the site of mysterious events like deadly fires, missing children, and even a winter of starvation. But what does this have to do with his family?

Overall, this book was good. It definitely felt like a gothic thriller, and more than once, I found myself comparing the feeling of the book to "The Shining" by Stephen King. But that is a generous comparison. This book is definitely not scary, and I had the "secret" of the house and town figured out in the first 100 or so pages. I was not a big fan of any of the characters either; Caroline was an over-the-top paranoiac and Ben comes across as "poor pitiful me -- I have to put up with a wimpy kid and a crazy wife." The story was good, but I felt that the inclusion of the "letters" from residents of the house back in the 1700's didn't really add anything to the book (whereas normally, I love details like that). I also felt that the "relationship" between "The Watcher" and Charlie was farfetched. I don't think that a child this young would do the things that Charlie does and keep secrets about it. Lastly, I didn't think that the very graphic descriptions of the dead animals was necessary. 

With summer coming, this could be a good beach read: fast, without too much thinking involved.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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