I love a good haunted house story, especially one loaded with horrifying ghosts straight out of my worst nightmare. So I was excited to dive in to a good old-fashioned horror story.
Scarlett is a celebrated horror blogger struggling with personal setbacks. Returning home, she reunites with her brother and childhood best friends on the eve a mysterious house drops in the middle of downtown. When a contract agency holds a contest--survive one night in the "house of horrors" and win a million dollars--the four are thrust into a nightmarish exploration of their darkest imaginings. I wanted to love this book so much, and it has a lot of positive things going for it. First, some of the imagery is incredible. I loved the hauntings--for lack of a better word, because I don't want to give too much away--the nods to Stephen King, classic horror, and Lovecraftian creatures. I also really loved the structure. While the characters reference Hill House, I'd say this felt more like the oughts House on Haunted Hill meets Silent Hill. The narrative read very much like a video game to me, with lots of terrifying creatures meant to unnerve, and the development of the creepy atmosphere was wonderful. In that same vein, however, I felt a disconnect between the characters and the plot. They're supposed to be almost thirty, yet they talk and act like teenagers. I am a huge fan of sarcasm in dialogue, but it felt a little heavy-handed at times, and I would've liked to see it scaled back to not be a constant stream of pop cultural references, wise ass remarks, and banter. Because of this, it was hard to be a fan of any of the characters; indeed, the women fell a little into the stereotypical female archetypes (doesn't know she's beautiful, awkward and always says the wrong thing--but we see her always saying the right thing and being very clever, "not like other girls, etc.). Most of the development was surface level and I had no connection or investment in any of the cast. If you're looking for a cause-and-effect horror, you won't find it here, and I loved the ambiguity and unanswered questions. Why does any evil exist in the world? Give me an open-ended narrative any day. Overall, The House that Fell from the Sky was a visually thrilling, video game-esque horror ride with a nostalgic edge. I'd recommend to anyone looking for a haunted house book who doesn't mind sci-fi notes or Lovecraftian influence. Thank you to Oblivion and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.