Frank Peretti and Ted Dekkertwo of the most acclaimed writers of supernatural thrillershave joined forces for the first time to craft a story unlike any you've ever read. Enter Housewhere you'll find yourself thrown into a killer's deadly game in which the only way to win is to lose . . . and the only way out is in. The stakes of the game become clear when a tin can is tossed into the house with rules scrawled on it. Rules that only a madmanor worsecould have written. Rules that make no sense yet must be followed.One game. Seven players. Three rules. Game ends at dawn.
Jack, a writer, and Stephanie, a singer, find themselves having car trouble on a back road in the middle of nowhere. The car engine is dead and, no surprise, they can't seem to get cell service. The two decide to hoof it on foot and eventually come upon signs of civilization. To be more precise, a literal sign advertising THE WAYSIDE INN. Naturally, they figure they might be someone there who can help them. Shortly after entering the building, they come upon another couple -- Leslie, a psychiatrist, or a psychology professor? both? I was a little confused on that point, and Randy, a hotel CEO -- with a car trouble story eerily similar to their own.
The two couples soon meet inn owners Betty & Stewart and their son Pete. It doesn't take long for both parties to agree that they're all solidly creeped out by this family. There's also something odd going on with the house itself. There is a true threat lurking on the property but it's not where these folks think it is!
The prologue of this novel is only about 1 1/2 pages long but it quickly introduces the reader to Barsidious White, and all we really establish about him is that he seems to have done something very bad.
The whole story spans roughly about 1 day, beginning at around 5:17pm. Many (but not all) of the chapters are headed with a timestamp so you can get an estimate of time passing from scene to scene. *Around 4:30am, things get REAL weird.* The early pages (much of Chapter 2, notably) plays off of Alabama redneck / country cop stereotypes.
For what's clearly supposed to be a thriller / mild horror kind of novel, the action takes awhile to get going. Tensions really escalate around pages 45-50 and from there the action keeps a pretty consistent hold. This one is definitely geared toward fans of hillbilly style horror, maybe even fans of the Saw movie franchise. It doesn't get quite that dark here, just kinda has that overall vibe to it, as well as a similar "how far would you go" challenge posed to the story's characters.
The horror / thriller aspect ... even the paranormal elements... that was all pretty mild IMO. Entertaining, easy read with a fair amount of creep factor but if you're after hardcore chills, this particular book might be a bit of a letdown. White has some edge to him, psychologically speaking, in that he has something Manson-esque about him in the way he tricks others into doing his dirty work for him. If anything, I found this one fun in the way that I like to watch low-budget horror / slasher movies in the fall as part of the whole Halloween season festivities. Being able to laugh at the cheezy lines and the ridiculously poor decision making is what makes the experience worthwhile! Like the giggle I got with the cop in this story at one point pronouncing, "I don't mind pointing out that I might not make it"... because think about it, are cops not some of the first to go in horror movies?! Stephanie though, her frequent exclamations of "Oh my God! Oh my God!" ... seriously, just ALL the time. Ugh, OMG Stephanie please shut it.
Though this is co-written by two power players in the Christian Fiction genre, the religious influence here is actually pretty minimal, until you get near the end and there's a mention of "look to the son of God". I actually kinda liked the symbolism within the story though, illustrating the importance of not letting the evil inside you control you.
A decently fun autumn read for religious and secular readers alike, so long as you're not looking for anything monumental. This is definitely one of those "just enjoy it for what it is" kind of experiences.