I received an uncorrected proof copy of The Forever House in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Tim Waggoner and Flame Tree Press for the opportunity.
The Forever House starts with the Eldred family moving into an infamous dwelling in a quiet cul-de-sac in suburban Rockbridge. The house in question was host to four murders and a suicide, and has been given the title the “house of blood”. With such a tragedy having taken place, most normal people wouldn’t consider buying the property. Fortunately for The Forever House, the Eldred family are the opposite of normal. They are akin to a twisted, warped and fiendish version of the Adams family and they feed of dark human emotions such as fear. The family members have names such as Father Hunger, The Werewife, The Low Prince, Grandother, and although these names sound and the characters initially seem, quiet comic, their actions, feelings, and wants are utterly dark.
“The Eldred fall quiet as they breathe deeply, resuming their search for the right scent, the right place. They have no doubt they’ll find their stalking ground. They always do.”
After they’ve moved into the house of blood the Eldred’s send their neighbours invitations to a house-warming garden party. Although it seems innocent and amiable on paper, the Eldred’s ulterior motives are to lure their unsuspecting neighbours into the nightmare property where they will feed on their emotional turmoil and distress. If they enter the house they will find themselves in one of the Eldred family members domains where their worst fears and nightmares are made real in a distorted and perverted reality. Unlike the Eldred’s, the neighbours are all too human with their ambitions, fears, desires, flaws, opinions, and views of reality.
The neighbours from four of the properties in the cul-de-sac attend the garden party and are transferred into the Eldred’s dark game. We follow the third person viewpoints of and enter the minds of all nine of the neighbours. They are a varied bunch that include a university professor, a father who suffers from gambling addiction, a young, wide-eyed child, a paedophile and also his worried mother. The characters were pretty well crafted and developed when taking into consideration that The Forever House is only 297 pages long.
In the first third of The Forever House, we get to know the characters, being presented with information about their thoughts, views and relationships to their families and also to other people who live in the same street. The final half takes place in the House of Blood where there are few limits to the horrors that are forthcoming. These sections are creepy, intense, disturbing and suspenseful. The Forever House is exquisitely well-written and throughout creates swirling, animated and heightened pictures of harrowing events and encounters. There are numerous horrific deaths, some featuring twisted psychological torment and others that create distressing imagery that will stick with you long after finishing the novel.
I don’t think I’ve read anything like The Forever House before. It weaves horror and suspense in a warped reality with elements of portal fantasy and some Brothers Grimm-esque imagery. Apart from a handful of characters there really isn’t a happy ending here so don’t go expecting for closure or for the good guys to prevail. Often macabre and sometimes terrifying, The Forever House is a ghastly and grim adventure where the humans might as well be puppets for the inhuman puppeteers who feed off their distress, fear and hatred. The novel is extremely adult in nature overall and much of content could be considered graphic.
One aspect of The Forever House that some people might not enjoy that I thought I would mention is the point of view perspective of the paedophile when he thinks in detail about his infatuation with children, one in particular who is a main character here, and reading about it was sometimes very uncomfortable. His overall character arc is interesting though so don’t write him off straight away.