Haunted house stories take a fine hand to craft and make them entertaining, believable, and scary. Cherie Priest accomplishes all of that with her superior horror novel, The Family Plot.
Music City Salvage is barely staying afloat, and Charles Dutton the owner, risks everything to keep it afloat when he buys the Withrow house for forty thousand. His team has a week to clear out anything valuable, anything they can sell, before it’s demolished – something Augusta Withrow will be happy to have happen.
Charles asks his daughter, Dahlia to lead the team, a woman pushing forty, still smarting over her recent divorce, and the loss of her house. She is joined by her cousin, Bobby, and his son, Gabe, and the new hire, Brad.
The expansive property is a gold mine, and will easily keep the company afloat. But like most old buildings, and some salvage operations, sometimes there are other things that happen, weird things… maybe even ghosts.
But they aren’t ready for what they encounter at the Withrow house.
I love how Priest tells her story, it’s stark, gothic, gets under your skin, and the simple fact that ghosts are taken as fact in this book makes it all the scarier. There are shadows, darkness, and full apparitions, and there is a lot going on in this house.
The idea of a person appearing behind me in the mirror, or in a reflection in a window is a thought that still spooks me out to this day, and Priest takes that and runs with it, delving out surprisingly effective jump scares (something I didn’t think would work in a book but she makes it work, every time).
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because there is some really unnerving and creepy stuff in it, wonderfully crafted and written by Priest, but I will say that this one flew by. I simply had to know what happened, even though I knew there could be something terrifying on the very next page.
I loved spending time with Dahlia, seeing how she ran her team, got the work done, dealing with her fear, and then watching horror strike. Yes, there are scary attics, creepy bathrooms, deserted rooms, everything you would expect to find in a haunted house, but Priest makes them her own and renders one of the best haunted house novels of the new millennium.
I loved this book, and loved how it plays out. It packs a wallop with each and every page. The characters are easy to relate to, they are real, recognizable, and as such, the terrifying things that happen to them are all the more frightening because if they can happen to ordinary people like Dahl and her crew… it could happen to you.
Read this one, I can’t recommend it enough. Priest crafts a haunted house tale that will stay with you after you turn the final page.