The September House

Berkley. Sept. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780593548615. $27. HORROR
DEBUTWith grim humor, emotional resonance, and brilliant subversion of a familiar trope, this compelling debut is perfect for fans of Clay MacLeod Chapman, Simone St. James, and Grady Hendrix. Margaret holds steadfast to the sentiment that everything is survivable each September when her dream home, a stately Victorian that she and her husband purchased, becomes a macabre nightmare: blood seeps from walls, disembodied moans howl like the wind, and there is an increase in appearances of ghosts of former residents who met untimely ends. With surprisingly good humor despite the circumstances, Margaret is determined to stay put, diligently washing walls and paying little mind to otherworldly roommates, but after three Septembers, her husband reaches his breaking point and leaves. This absence means little to Margaret until the couple’s adult daughter makes her first visit to the house one September, intent on finding out why her father isn’t returning her calls, and Margaret must balance fielding her daughter’s questions while going to increasingly extreme lengths to keep the ghosts at bay.
VERDICT The metaphor is layered and at times heartbreaking, as secrets held by both a house and a family come to light with terrifying poignancy in this wonderfully eerie debut.
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