Review & Giveaway: HOUSE OF ECHOES by Brendan Duffy

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I know that I usually only review romance or erotica unless it’s Thriller Week here at Kindles & Wine, but when I was younger, I read all kinds of genres. One of my favorite genres was horror. Every once in a great while, I’ll still pick up a scary book and read it. Since I’m trying to step outside of my comfort zone this year, I thought I’d take K&W readers along on at least one of my trips back into the horror genre. Read on to see how it turned out…

House of Echoes cover

Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Ballantine (Random House)
Source & Format: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley; digital
 
Official Summary
In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.
 
Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.
 
When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.
 
House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.
 
 

Liz‘s Review

Wow, this was a great book! The best part about it was that it was scary, but it wasn’t super gory like many horror books. Gore doesn’t bother me, but I know it’s a deal breaker for a lot of people. The author figured out a way to give me “the creeps” and I could barely put this book down – I didn’t even want to go to bed because I was so into it!

As creepy as the author made it, the setting in House of Echoes was still somehow really beautiful. It takes place somewhere in upstate New York. I have been to the Utica/Rome area and it’s absolutely gorgeous up there. I could actually picture this town set between two mountains and this mansion that sits above it all. For me, I imagined equal parts romantic AND creepy! LOL! Although I doubt that the author had it in mind, I pictured the Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island.

Marble House

The main characters were incredible. There’s Ben, the husband and father; Caroline, the wife and mom; Charlie, their eight-year-old son; and Bub, the baby boy. The point of view switched between Ben and Caroline a few times but mostly stayed with Ben. I was glad for the occasional view from Caroline because from Ben’s POV, I would get irritated with Caroline and would feel bad for Ben. But then I would see things through Caroline’s eyes and it allowed me to like her more and more. There are even a few scenes written from Charlie’s point of view and, to be honest, those were some of the scariest. Charlie has less of an understanding of everything in general just because he’s a kid. So it’s fun, right? But it also means he doesn’t have the natural hesitancy an older person would, so he sees some things that I thought were very scary. Sheesh, I loved it!

The secondary characters were just as memorable. Ben’s brother, Ted, is a great example. Ted visits Ben and his family once during the story, but he made such an impression on me that the visit seemed longer than it was. He and Ben have some fun brotherly moments, but they also have a bit of an argument when Ben said some things a little more harshly than he intended. He repeatedly comes back to that moment a few times later in the story. I liked those scenes so much because they reminded me how we shouldn’t take family for granted. It also reminded me that it’s important to choose our words with care.

The pace was a little bit slow at first, but I didn’t find that to be a problem. I was getting used to Ben and Caroline’s new surroundings, just like they were, so it was nice to have a slow introduction to everyone and to the town of Swannhaven, where they’ve just moved. But nothing nice and sweet and calm can last in a horror novel, so the easing in to it doesn’t last. LOL! The weird and slightly menacing things start happening and then start to increase more and more. Everything just seemed so normal and everyone seemed so nice, but at the same time, there was something off. Like that one missed note in a concert, I didn’t know exactly what was wrong, but I knew there was something.

I was shocked to learn that this is the author’s debut novel. It was so well written, so superbly paced, that I was sure he would have had a few books under his belt. The characters all felt genuine, the setting was easy to visualize, and nothing so outlandish happened that I couldn’t believe it – it was all so terrifyingly possible. I think maybe that was the scariest part of this whole novel! This book was so much scary fun and I can’t wait to see what this author delivers next!

Bottom Line

I really enjoyed House of Echoes – it scared me just enough. The pace and tension slowly amped up and had me at the edge of my seat for the entire second half of the book. There’s very little gore, so I think this story would work for fans of horror and for fans of mysteries/thrillers.

Rating: A- (4½ stars)

Wine/Beverage Pairing: Peaches and Cream (whipped cream vodka and peach schnapps) – my drink of choice when I visited family in upstate New York last year.

Buy Digital:  Kindle  |  Nook
 
Buy Print:  Amazon  |  B&N
  

 
 

House of Echoes Giveaway

The lovely folks at Ballantine Books have generously offered to give away a print copy of House of Echoes to ONE lucky Kindles & Wine reader (U.S. residents only).

To enter for your chance to win, you must:

  1. Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
  2. I enjoyed this book so much that I want to read MORE horror novels! Hit the comments and tell me about your favorite horror novel. If you haven’t read any that you can remember, tell me about your favorite scary movie.

Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the winner will be notified via email on Monday, June 1.