Monday, January 30, 2017

Books #5 and #6: "The Family Plot" and "Bait"

This new idea to review books this year as I finish them has a pro that I thought of and a con that I didn't think of. The pro is, of course, that I'm updating my blog more often, because I read a lot. That was one of my goals with this, as I noticed last year that I wasn't writing as much as I usually do and felt like I was neglecting this space. The con is that some of these entries are going to be really short, and most of my blog is now going to be about books unless I make a concerted effort to stick some other content here. I guess doing that could also turn out to be a pro, eventually?

I'll keep thinking about that.

In the meantime, I finished two books, and don't really have much to say about either one, unfortunately.

A lot of people kept recommending Cherie Priest's The Family Plot as exciting new horror, and a book not to be missed. Local people also seemed a little excited about it because it takes place nearby, in Chattanooga, but now that I've finished it I'm not sure what everyone was so excited about.

The book concerns Music City Salvage, a family architectural salvage business based in Nashville. Augusta Witherow, elderly last survivor of the once wealthy Witherow family, walks into Music City Salvage one day with a fantastic deal: for forty thousand dollars the company can have the Witherow mansion, everything inside, the barn, the carriage house, and everything in both of those buildings as well. Filled with vintage wood, stained glass, antiques, marble fireplaces, hardware, doors, a grand staircase, and whatever's in the attic, the estate is a gold mine that can turn Music City Salvages failing bottom line around, and Dahlia Dutton, the owner's daughter, takes a small crew and two big trucks down to start harvesting whatever they can. And that's when they find the tiny cemetery that Augusta forgot to mention. And the sealed bedroom. And the footprints and handprints all over the dusty, locked house.

This is a haunted house story, but there's nothing really all that interesting here. There are ghosts, family secrets, danger, and what feels like an obligatory dramatic conclusion at night in a thunderstorm with help too far away to reach them, but everything about this feels like it's been done before. Reading this is like watching a horror movie on the SyFy channel: entertaining while it's on, but nothing about it is really new.

Chuck Palahniuk's Bait isn't really new, either, but you'll like it if you like Palahniuk. The stories are interesting, short little bursts of physical and moral squeamishness, and the illustrations are interesting even if I'm not going to color mine in as the book suggests that I should.

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