Incidents Around the House

Del Rey: Ballantine. Jun. 2024. 384p. ISBN 9780593723128. $28. ;. HORROR
Eight-year-old Bela’s imaginary friend, Other Mommy, began as a fun playmate and a way to handle her parents’ disintegrating marriage. Other Mommy asks Bela to let her into her heart, but, when refused, her presence grows until others can hear and see her, leading Bela and her parents to go on the run. No matter where they seek shelter, Other Mommy finds Bela and tries to force her to change her answer while menacing anyone who tries to help. In this novel, Malerman (Spin A Black Yarn) explores the idea of a family, rather than a house, being haunted. This is intensified through the use of Bela as the novel’s narrator and the fact that her family is nearly her entire world.
VERDICT Malerman is extraordinarily skilled at bringing fear to the ordinary and building a sense of unease into terror. He can terrify readers even while writing from a believable child’s perspective and voice. For fans of novelists who deftly deploy unease and surreal takes on the routine like Neil Gaiman, Catriona Ward, or Paul Tremblay, or Scott Thomas’s Violet, another novels about an imaginary friend.
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