The Spite House

Tor Nightfire. Feb. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781250841414. $27.99. HORROR
DEBUT This novel by Compton (host of the podcast Healthy Fears) takes the haunted house story’s emphasis on setting and amplifies it with questions about one family and a home’s wider effects in a community. This book begins with a slow burn as Eric, fleeing Maryland for his Texas hometown with his daughters, becomes familiar with a local haunted house, after some long descriptions of their cryptic flight. Eric appears outwardly prepared and solid, but he harbors insecurities about his own strength and capacity for hard choices. Meanwhile, older daughter Dess storms through hardship with teenage arrogance bordering on confidence, while the much younger Stacy tries to hide supernatural capabilities behind practiced childishness. As the family attempts to live in the haunted home, all the while documenting the experience for their mysterious employer, readers will wonder not if this tight unit will break apart, but when.
VERDICT One part road trip, one part family relationships, and one part haunted house, serve this update on genre staples to showcase the voice of a rising new writer to an audience that adores the classics.
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