Genre: Horror – Suspense
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor (September 20, 2016)
Length: 368 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars.
Anyone who loves creepy houses or ghost stories will adore The Family Plot. Cherie Priest finding the perfect balance between mystery and horror with this amazing entertaining and scary story of the peculiar Withrow House.
It all begins when Augusta Evelyn Sophia Withrow contacts City Music Salvage about purchasing the rights to salvage anything of value from her Chattanooga, Tennessee estate before the ancestral home is demolished. Chuck Dutton, the owner of MCS , knows the price Ms. Withrow wants is to high for his company to afford in its current financial bind, but the opportunity is too good to pass up. And so, he inks the deal against his better judgment, sending his daughter Dahlia and a crew of three others to pick through the estate, stripping it of any valuable architectural pieces or furniture.
Once Dahlia gets to the estate, everything begins to get weird really fast. Strange occurrences happening. Mysterious, creepy events interrupting the salvage process. And since Dahlia and her team are staying the night at the house to save on motel bills, they experience it all. Only when ghostly apparitions begin to appear does Dahlia consider getting the hell out of there, but since there is so much money tied up in the Withrow House to stop, she is forced to stay put, splitting her time between the job and attempting to get to the bottom of who or what is trying to scare them away.
Probably my favorite part of this story is Dahlia and her chosen occupation. I have to admit being a fan of American Pickers and other tv shows where our stars go out salvaging items from the past, which turn out to be historical pieces, one-of-a-kind architectural elements, or just cool junk. So having the star here in that line of work, sharing her love for old houses and items, going through them, identifying cool pieces worth saving, then setting about salvaging them for the future was amazingly interesting to me. The fact that Dahlia turned out to be such an realistic, interesting, and likable protagonist only made it even better.
The other element I really loved here is the way Cherie Priest slowly eases into the horror aspects of the tale. For most of its pages, this novel reads like an old school ghost story, the mystery elements to the forefront, as Dahlia’s group slowly accepts they have entered into a real haunted house then begin to uncover the why of it all. It isn’t until near the end that the more horrific scenes appear, though even those are tame by comparison to most horror, not filled with anywhere near the volume of blood and gore most of us are accustom to these days. And I found this more restrained horror very refreshing.
The only thing I didn’t completely love about the book was the ending. For me it wrapped up too quickly with too little payoff for all the build up, and I really did not like the last page, which turned what I believed was the conclusion on its proverbial head. Perhaps this is merely a personal dislike on my part, since others might find the ending perfect, but I felt I must, at least, mention it.
The Family Plot was a good haunted house mystery perfect for those who don’t like to wade through buckets of blood and gore for their horror. Now, it won’t scare you to death, but its creepy narrative with a likable main character and loads of mysterious questions to be answered will keep most readers glued to their seats until the very last, creepy page.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.