I’ve always been a huge fan of great cover and a haunted house story. In fact, I would put it above all other sub genres of horror as my favorite. So, when I was approached to read The House That Jack Built by the darkly talented Dale Robertson, I wasn’t hesitant to jump in.
We start the story with our main character Sebastian, and his two best friends, Tommy and Regan. There’s a legend around town about Old Man Jack and the house he may or may not still be inhabiting. Our curious characters are eager to discover what lies inside the decrepit, possibly haunted house.
I will say first and foremost that, personally, one of my favorite things of this story was the dialogue. Dale has a real way of creating characters and the relationship between them in short time, specifically, Seb and Tommy. I was immediately invested in them, and while they may not have been the deepest of personalities, I was nervous of what fate may be waiting for them in the coming night.
“Even the forest seemed to have held its breath in anticipation of their arrival…”
Almost a quarter into the book, we are taken into different stories as it is old myth that Old Man Jack requires a few spooky tales before he’s willing to manifest himself. Each character brings an entirely different short story to the table to please Old Jack. While this was unexpected for me, I did not feel that the stories took me out of the main one. They are not related to the events going on, if anything they were a suspense builder to what was going to happen to our characters if legend proved itself true. I enjoyed some of these short stories more than others but overall, I feel each could stand by itself separately. So I had no quarrel with this.
It was impressive how Dale manages to keep ‘Haunted House’ cliches to a minimum, as the classic story has been told countless times.
Our three short stories lead back and forth to an engaging and adrenaline filled climax. Another thing I loved about this story was that the final chapter was my favorite. The twist was held out until the final words, even if I did have an idea of what it would be early on, I appreciate the ability to hold out on your twist until the very end.
I would like to read a sequel to this story focused more into the myth of Jack and what horror he could bring this world.
Overall, if your looking for a fairly quick read to get some thrills, characters you care about, short stories in the mix, and dark atmosphere, The House That Jack Built is an engaging tale that you should not pass up! ~ Garrett