The Story: Therapist and best-seller self-help writer Sarah Slade and her handsome husband have just done the unthinkable. They've bought and intend the ill-fortuned Renovate Black Wood House. Abandoned after bloody murder-suicide forty years ago, Black Wood House is more than just a neglected Victorian mansion - it lives. And it does not want to be changed or saved.
Soon it becomes apparent that there is more going on with the house and the neighborhood than Sarah previous thought. The neighbors are suspicious and hostile. There are threats and warnings everywhere. And Sarah's own life, perfect on the outside and built almost entirely on lies, is falling to pieces as she watches. Can she hold on long enough to discover the true secret of Black Wood House? Or will the truth kill her?
My Review: Truth be told, I almost gave up about a third of the way into this book. But I dearly, dearly love haunted houses, so I pushed on and I am so glad I did. Black Wood House is a terrifically creepy, gothic nightmare, set in Australia (for a change of flavor) and the house is almost a character in it's own right.
But the true fascination is watching Sarah Slade go from annoying media star who has it all to the girl who might just make it out alive. Sarah is not at all what she seems to be and, although unreliable narrators are very much a done thing now, Matlin paces her reveals very well and the trip is twisted, dark, and very entertaining. Warning for sensitive readers - there are plenty of triggers in this book. But for those of you who are looking for a creepy read this October, The Stranger Upstairs will do the trick.
(Note about my reviews: As much as I love a well-written, witty critique or movie take-down (and I ADORE them!), I know all too well how badly it feels to be on the receiving end of a bad review. I will only post books here that I can speak well of - if I can't recommend it, I won't post a review of it!)