Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CR3 #23: House of Windows by John Langan

House of Windows is the story of Veronica, a young widow. She tells the story of her short marriage and of her husband's mysterious disappearance to a writer she meets during a Cape weekend. It's a tale that begins as a love story between a young woman and her much older (and married) professor. They fall and love and eventually are married. Things seem to be going well, but soon the professor's son from his first marriage arrives to cause trouble. When he dies shortly after in Afghanistan, things begin to go horribly wrong for the couple, and the trouble seems to center around their home, Belvedere House.

This is a book that wants to be both deeply suspenseful as well as literary. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it doesn't necessarily succeed on either point. On one hand, there is a great deal of literature involved, as the professor is a Dickens expert, and Veronica follows in his literary footsteps, with a concentration in 19th century literature. Perhaps I just missed the allusions, since I have read very little Dickens, and absolutely no Melville. I suppose it's possible that some of the book's themes may have gone right over my head because I wasn't able to pick up on the references. My main disappointment came from the lack of suspense. It becomes obvious fairly early on what is happening to Veronica and the professor, but then it seems to take forever for the story to come to a head. There are moments of suspense and horror, but then they dissipate and we spend another 20 - 30 pages rehashing repetitive relationship arguments or talking extensively of the history of painters who don't exist and are mere red herrings in terms of the story. It's almost as if John Langan wanted to write a haunted house story and a ghost story, but didn't connect them properly.

The was the second book in a row that I found myself looking at and going "There is still THAT MUCH left to go? I feel like I've been reading forever!"

I wouldn't recommend this one--it will be unsatisfactory both for those who are looking for good writing and for those looking for a good scare.

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