by Tim Waggoner
On today’s episode of ‘sentences I never thought I’d write’, prepare yourself for a tale of suburban cosmic horror! On March 26th, Flame Tree Press is putting out Tim Waggoner’s newest novel, The Forever House.
From the outset, Waggoner lets the reader know that there are going to be some strange elements in this one. We meet the Eldred Family, known in their true form as Father Hunger, the Werewife, the Low Prince, the Nonsister, and the Grandother. The family has just bought a house with a bloody history, and commence joining the neighborhood with some sinister plans in mind.
While we check in with the Eldreds with relative frequency, Waggoner makes sure that we take ample time to get to know the other residents of the neighborhood our story takes place in. At a guess, we spend about a third of the novel’s runtime getting to know all the human characters. While on the surface, this may seem like a “when are we going to get to the fireworks factory?”-type complaint, there is a whole lot of opportunity for this character development to pay off in the final act. Almost all the characters have a fatal flaw that we witness repeatedly, and they all come into play in some way, shape, or form later on. Overall this is well executed and planned, but there was one certain character whose problem felt like it was bludgeoning us over the head, and could have been toned down a bit, while still having the same dramatic impact.
The less you know about the third act going in, the better. I’ll leave you with two things and two things only. Number one, it is absolutely off-the-wall. Number two, it was ‘too late to read 100 more pages’ o’clock when the author made it clear to me the direction the story would be heading, and even though work was mere hours away, I was unable to pause for the night. I had to see it through. That last hundred pages flew. They delighted and surprised me. Some things I felt were telegraphed ended up going in unexpected directions, and characters went through different journeys than I anticipated.
Lastly, I have to commend Waggoner for working so unbelievably well with the gray areas on his human characters. There are some people in this book that range from tarnished to despicable on the surface, and through a combination of backstory and character arc, I ended up giving a shit about every last one.
I am a new to Tim Waggoner reader, but I don’t plan on waiting long to remedy that.
Review by Brennan LaFaro
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.