I’m not a fan of child death in horror. Pretty much anyone who knows me and has listened to me talk about horror knows that. I consider it to be a weak writing prop, and I’ll even snarl at some of my writer acquaintances for it. (Sorry, Mike!) However, sometimes, just sometimes it’s done right. It has shock value – because, hello, child death – but it makes so much sense in the story that you accept it. That’s how it was in The Good House. It wasn’t a couple trying to get a fresh start after a baby’s death. It didn’t linger on a child’s dead body for giggles. The deaths are there, and they are terrible, but they are not lingered upon. And they play a role.
Angela, the primary character in The Good House, is beautiful, flawed, and strong. She’s a woman I spent the majority of the book feeling with. Yes, feeling ‘with’. I know her struggles. The first time I connected with her was when Due writes about her struggles to sleep, and the thoughts and images that bombard her prior to it. Angela is afraid of falling asleep, but not really afraid of sleeping itself, and I get that. I struggle with it every night. I wanted to reach into the pages and share a beer with her, and just say “I know, honey. I know.”
Words have a powerful magic when used well, and Tananarive Due conjures that magic up effortlessly in The Good House. All the characters leap off the page, even if you only meet them for a few moments. There have been several books lately where I’ve had trouble keeping the characters straight or even just remembering their names. There wasn’t a chance of that happening here. Grandma Marie, Myles, Corey, Sean, even Art and Glenn felt so real you would half expect to run into them on the street. And even though the book is set just a short time after the turn of the millenium, the only thing that really dates it is the mention of the music.
Now, mind, I didn’t care for everything in The Good House. There was a lot of sexual stuff involved and that just didn’t do it for me. (Mostly because I was reading this on my downtime at work and didn’t want anyone seeing some heated stuff on my screen! But also, in general, I don’t like sex and horror to mix.) And I have to confess I’m still not entirely sure how Tariq came to play the role that he played in the book. In fact if I could ask the author just one question, it would be to please clarify how he got involved in the very beginning. (But I won’t say more so I don’t spoil anything!)
And, it pains me to say this, but the very end felt like a little bit out of a cop-out in The Good House. I can understand why she did it, but it was just like “Nooo! Don’t weaken it now!”
My favorite quote:
“I’m in the film business, remember — and if this were a movie, this is the part where the audience would be screaming for the woman to get out of the house. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.” – The Good House by Tananarive Due
Overall, even though it didn’t quite hit it out of the park for me, I really enjoyed The Good House. It’s so very well written, beautifully imagined, and almost cinematic in its feel. I’m so happy I finally got around to reading Tananarive Due, and I seriously doubt this will be the last book I read from her.