Review: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

When I first started reviewing books, I really shied away from the horror genre. I always thought to horror as ‘slicer dicer’ or ‘zombie’ books and it just wasn’t my thing. But I quickly came to discover that the horror genre has really grown in popularity and variety over the years and I have branded out into more and more horror as time has gone one. I especially love ghost stories so naturally the title of this book grabbed my interest. Plus I have read Grady Hendrix in the past and know that his books always seem to stick a good balance between horror and something for the more mainstream readers who maybe want to try something in the horror genre.

The horror genre isn’t for everyone. It’s truly a niche genre and either it’s your thing or it isn’t. For me, I acquired a love for the horror genre though with that said, I don’t love all the traditional horror authors. For example, I have tried to love Stephen King, but I simply do not. I personally prefer my horror novels to have some cross over in other sub genres—for example, Simone St James is a favorite of mine. She writes paranormal horror but also factors in things like a murder mystery.

I am always on the lookout for horror authors who make the genre more accessible for new readers or fans. For me Stephen King is just not my thing and his books are often lengthy and daunting. His books were my only exposure to the horror genre for a long time and I honestly never wanted to read horror books because I feared they were all like that. But after finding some other horror authors that blended other genres really made me love the genre as a whole. That’s why I was so excited for this book!

Summary

Your past and your family can haunt you like nothing else… A hilarious and terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Girl Support Group.

Every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents.

When their parents die at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, Louise and Mark Joyner are devastated but nothing can prepare them for how bad things are about to get. The two siblings are almost totally estranged, and couldn’t be more different. Now, however, they don’t have a choice but to get along. The virus has passed, and both of them are facing bank accounts ravaged by the economic meltdown. Their one asset? Their childhood home. They need to get it on the market as soon as possible because they need the money. Yet before her parents died they taped newspaper over the mirrors and nailed shut the attic door.

Sometimes we feel like puppets, controlled by our upbringing and our genes. Sometimes we feel like our parents treat us like toys, or playthings, or even dolls. The past can ground us, teach us, and keep us safe. It can also trap us, and bind us, and suffocate the life out of us. As disturbing events stack up in the house, Louise and Mark have to learn that sometimes the only way to break away from the past, sometimes the only way to sell a haunted house, is to burn it all down. (Summary from Goodreads)

Review

This book has a lot of family drama and frankly a lot of emotional things to unpack. I had a hard. time reading this one at the beginning. From literally the first page there was a lot of emotional things to process and it was a challenge like maybe it should have come with a trigger warning challenge. But then I remembered that I was reading horror and it’s supposed to make people uncomfortable to some degree or another. And I think you need to read this book with dark humor in mind. Most of Hendrix’s books definitely have a dark, edgy humor to them that sometimes might be lost on the casual reader. Which is exactly what I mean when I say horror isn’t for everyone. I personally love a dark humor, I mean my whole life could be written in dark humor so I love it but I am also aware not everyone enjoys that. But if you do love dark humor in my opinion there is no one better than Grady Hendrix. He has such a great way of incorporating dark humor in his novels and I so enjoy reading them for this reason,.

Fans of classic horror will find a lot to love in this book. When I say classic horror, I am meaning like the 1980s style horror movies with creepy possessed dolls style horror. But at the same time, this book explored family themes and relationships that just happened to include horror elements. I also thought this book had very modern feel. I know that as we move from the pandemic, the question becomes how do we address the pandemic in upcoming things like books, movies, and tv etc. Do we even acknowledge it in books? Do we ignore it? Call attention to it? Who know what the answer is but I love that this book included the pandemic in it’s storyline. I thought that added a lot of ‘realness’ to an otherwise fantastical story.

Personally I preferred The Final Girls Support Group over this novel—-for me it read faster than this one. But this one did tick a lot of boxes for me. Approachable horror, a haunted house, a post pandemic world, and of course complex family relationships. This book read more like a thriller but for me it was a slow burn thriller if that makes sense. I felt like I should have been burning through the pages a little faster than I was, but I did enjoy me time with this book. Grady Hendrix is quickly becoming an exciting author for me to watch grow. I will gladly read more books by him in the future and cannot wait to see what sensational story he cooks up next! Great read.

Book Info and Rating

Hardcover, 400 pages

Expected publication: January 17th 2023 by Berkley

ISBN 0593201264 (ISBN13: 9780593201268)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: horror

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