I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
Published by titan Books on January 14, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Thrillers, Suspense, Psychological
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Wildly entertaining."-The New York Times
"Ingenious."-The Washington Post
Grady Hendrix takes on the haunted house in a thrilling new novel that explores the way your past—and your family—can haunt you like nothing else. When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world. Most of all, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. Unfortunately, she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market. But some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them… Like his novels The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires and The Final Girl Support Group, How to Sell a Haunted House is classic Hendrix: equal parts heartfelt and terrifying—a gripping new read from “the horror master” (USA Today).
How to Sell a Haunted House is essentially a story about loss and forgiveness. Buckle up because this one will put a needle through your eye to get your attention!
How to Sell a Haunted House is a loaded title, it grabs your attention, doesn’t it? That was certainly one aspect of me reading this story but also the cover, the synopsis, and the fact it was written by Grady freaking Hendrix! So many different things aligned to make this a book that wouldn’t stop burrowing its tendrils into your mind. I just knew going into this book that it was going to be complex and atmospheric. I had high expectations and still, Hendrix broke through them like the cool aidman!
Bear with me whilst I try to get my thoughts and feelings into order. I find the more book reviews I write the more difficult it is to convey just how I feel, especially when the book is just so damn good. The story is set mainly in South Carolina where the parents of Louise and Mark have perished in a car accident and they have to organise the funeral, get probate in order, clear their house of all their worldly possessions (including creepy as-hell puppets and dolls that belonged to their mother) and sell the family home. The novel sets the tone immediately. Louise leaves her precious five-year-old daughter in San Francisco with her father, Ian, and makes the heart-breaking journey. Her grief is profound even if it is tinged with all the wrongs her mum left unmentioned whilst alive.
Louise knows this is going to be a difficult time, alongside dealing with her parent’s death she needs to do this beside her brother, Mark. They haven’t seen eye to eye for a long time. She’s felt that she has had to work for everything whilst Mark gets handed everything on a silver platter. He screws up his life at every turn – blows his savings on stupid business ideas, drops out of college that he harassed their father to send him to, and can’t seem to hold down a relationship. They are just different people, he lives for drama, just like their mom.
Reading How to Sell a Haunted House felt like standing in a barren field in the pitch black. The ground underneath my feet is dry but I can feel the moisture bead on my face. The story felt real, I felt there at that moment. It sent a chill down my spine, something just didn’t feel right (apart from the puppets and death, of course.) My mind wandered from disliking Mark’s adolescent behaviour to feeling sorry for him as his story emerged. I had lots of questions, but would Hendrix deliver them in a way that left me satisfied?
If you have read any of Hendrix’s novels, you will come to recognise that narrative voice. It’s full of honesty, sometimes brutally so, full of heart, and also weaves an intense sense of atmosphere. The more I read, the more anxious I became. I’ve watched a few horror movies where the antagonist is an evil doll and to say it left me with agonising palpations and a t-shirt soaked in sweat is an understatement. So, this story gave me similar vibes. I got on my paper suit and fastened my seatbelt for what would no doubt be a scary hellish ride.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grady Hendrix writes fiction, also called “lies,” and he writes non-fiction, which people sometimes accidentally pay him for. He is the author of Horrorstör, the only novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture store you’ll ever need. It has been translated into 14 languages and is being turned into a movie from the people who made quality films like 1917 and Black Swan. Foolishly, they are paying Grady to write it. He is busy inserting a whole lot of tutus into it right now.
His novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, about demonic possession, friendship, exorcism, and the Eighties, is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist and it caused the Wall Street Journal to call him “a national treasure” and received rave reviews from everyone from Kirkus to Southern Living. Surprisingly, this is still not enough for him to earn his mother’s love.
Refusing to stop trying to prove himself to his family, he also wrote Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom in the Seventies and Eighties. It is so popular it won a Stoker Award, and while you may not know what that is, trust me when I say that it is a big, big deal that gets Grady 20% off all purchases at the Franklin Mint. His next novel was We Sold Our Souls, a heavy metal take on the Faust legend, which hit bookstores in 2018 and got selected as one of the best books of 2018 by Library Journal, the Chicago Public library, and, finally, his mom. It’s also one of Locus’s recommended novels of 2018 and earned him an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books that makes him sound like some kind of smart person or something. He’s not.
His latest novel is the New York Times bestseller, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which is being turned into a TV series by Amazon right now because they own everything. In a surprise twist, this book is actually about a Southern vampire getting clubbed to death with books by the band, Slayer.
Grady Hendrix used to be a journalist, which means that he was completely irrelevant and could be killed and turned into food at any time. He is one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival, but he is not responsible for the bad parts of it. He is also not Asian. For years he was a regular film critic for the New York Sun but then it went out of business. He has written for Playboy Magazine, Slate, The Village Voice, the New York Post, Film Comment, and Variety. He has a hard time making up his mind.
There is a science fiction book called Occupy Space that he is the author of, and also a fantasy book called Satan Loves You which he wrote as well. Along with his BFF from high school, Katie Crouch, he is the co-author of the YA series, The Magnolia League. He co-authored Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, the first graphic novel cookbook in America, with his wife and Ryan Dunlavey. It’s now in its seventh printing which means that at least 24 people have bought a copy. His fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Pseudopod, and the anthology, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.
He is very, very beautiful, but if you ever meet him, please do not let this make you uncomfortable. He does not judge.
The New Yorker once ran a short profile of him, and this means that when the time comes and they are lining people up for the Space Arks he will be guaranteed a seat ahead of you.