Friday Reads: The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

There was a time when the American dream was painted with white picket fences, kids’ stickball matches in the street, and backyard barbeques. This was the time of Colquitt Kennedy and her husband Walter: two suburban acolytes who created a life of comfort and serenity, carving out their own space in an ecosystem that’s only as strong as its newest link. And that link is the house next door.
       The lot next to the Kennedys had been empty for quite some time save for an overgrowth of foliage. With its oblong shape, the property was deemed too challenging for construction. That is, until a budding, young architect put his mind to the grindstone, creating the perfect home to fit the lot and its newest owners: the Harralsons.
       Elated to start their family in this quiet and unassuming neighborhood, the Harralsons finally see their chance to take hold of the American dream. But sometimes even the loftiest of dreams are built to collapse.
       They begin exhibiting odd behavior and experience unexpected tragedy, all seemingly attributed to poor discretion and rotten luck. At least, that’s how it starts, and then it ends with their absconding. And the process continues like clockwork for each ensuing homeowner, ending their residencies abruptly under mysterious and even violent circumstances.
       Chalking it up to unresolved emotional baggage and bad decision-making, the neighborhood turns a blind eye to what can’t possibly be true: the house has a mind all its own. But with their minds made up, Colquitt and Walter are determined to put an end to its rampaging streak. And there’s only one way they know how. However, there’s always a high price to pay for taking matters into your own hands when no one else believes you.
       Unfolding as a slow burn, The House Next Door is an atypical haunted house story that still manages to keep you petrified for all four hundred of its pages. By the end, you’ll be begging for more just as this Atlanta neighborhood begs for mercy.
       You may find shock and terror in the vindictive acts perpetrated by this shadowy, malicious force, but the underlying psychological torture is the headline here. The most vulnerable depths of these characters are identified, mined, and exploited until there’s no room left to breathe. And no one is the wiser…until it’s too late.
       Perhaps the suburbs aren’t always the best place for comfort, serenity, and pursuing the American dream. At least, not when authors like Siddons are writing the headlines.
       This edition of The House Next Door includes an introduction by Stephen King and a wraparound dustjacket, frontispiece, and four interior illustrations by Ruth Sanderson.

Source: Centipede Press

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