By John Quick
After the death of her child and the collapse of her marriage, Katherine, looking for a fresh start, moves to an old, rundown property. Like most haunted house stories, The Corruption of Alston House begins with an almost too good to be true deal. For Katherine, Alston House is the perfect place to focus on herself, her painting, and moving past the tragedy that has befallen her.
The story is a little of a slow-burn, which works really well in this subgenre. Quick spends time letting us get to know Katherine and the people around her, so we can understand her and connect with the characters, rather than having them shoved out onto the stage simply to be killed off. Although the dark events in Alston House start almost instantly, there’s the immediate sense that things will get worse. Because we spend so long with Katherine, we really get to feel the tension of what might happen.
Quick does well with the supporting characters. The few townspeople we meet make it clear how reluctant ‘old timers’ are to accept newcomers, although the town marshal takes an instant liking to Katherine, making half-hearted attempts to set her up with his deputy. These characters feel as real as Katherine does. The slow growing relationship between her and the deputy helps add to the story, giving Katherine a much-needed ally, as well as increasing the tension as the house’s long-dead resident attempts to use their mutual attraction against them.
The buried story of the house is revealed well, the reader getting glimpses and clues just as Katherine does. As she pieces things together, so do we, and we grow to understand the true horror of Alston House.
The best comparison for this book is The Secret of Crickley Hall, by James Herbert, but where Herbert waffles, Quick keeps thing tight. Where Herbert’s female characters are written a little poorly, Quick gives realism and strength to his heroine. In both books, the lead character is trying to move on, and in both books, the evil of the house stems from the evil left behind by previous owners. The Corruption of Alston House maybe veers a little too close to Crickley Hall in some places, but Quick has a distinctive style and engaging voice to keep the reader absolutely hooked.
For fans of the haunted house subgenre of horror, The Corruption of Alston House feels familiar and comforting, yet still manages to bring a unique, engaging voice to add something new. The foundations are there, and the house built on top will keep you turning the pages, wondering what darkness lurks around the next corner.
Silver Shamrock: https://www.silvershamrockpublishing.com/
Review by Elle Turpitt
I received this e-book from Silver Shamrock Publishing for review consideration.