Sunday Salon: Review of The Birthing House
It’s been a while since I’ve read a horror book. Yet I kept on finding this one through book blogs I’ve been hopping through, and also through book newsletters I get through e-mail. I did take it out of the library numerous times, but always having to return it because of the due date. Finally, I managed to dig in and read.
Conrad and Joanna are trying to save their marriage. Conrad, decides to buy a large old Victorian house that used to be a birthing house for pregnant women (who were usually pregnant outside of wedlock and needed a place to hide for 9 months). Just as Conrad is about to move in, the previous owner gives him a photo album of the history of the house and its’ inhabitants (midwives, and young pregnant women). While leafing through the album, Conrad found something odd and literally impossible; several pictures featuring his wife. The nightmare then begins, as an old crime is re-enacted, and Conrad and Joanna become unwilling victims of the house with a past that doesn’t sleep.
Oh my. Where to start. There were plenty of parts where the hair on the back of my neck stood to one end. It hit me by surprise too. (If any of you have read it, remember the popsicle doll part? argh!) I had the misfortune of reading that part at night right before bedtime. So, there is plenty of horror and suspense. The thing is, although the horror parts are very well written and enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, the storyline and characters don’t really give the story substance or depth.
I didn’t really like Conrad, or Joanna. Conrad hasn’t grown up yet and still acts like an 18 year old teenager who still on raging hormone syndrome. Joanna doesn’t help much with things either as she appears to be whiny, selfish, and acts like a B-movie diva. Despite the book’s great horror moments, Conrad ruins it all with his Lolita moments with Nadia, his constant thoughts about not getting any “action”, and his immaturity just has no boundaries. It can be quite eye rolling and very tedious.
What also bugs me, are some moments where things are mentioned, and then are just forgotten. Like the snakes Conrad has as a hobby. One of them undergoes a miraculous conception…..and….that’s it. Then you have that strange family that used to live in the house before Conrad. They had children – not very normal children. Bad things had happened to them while in that house. Nadia used to babysit the kids. Then they moved out. Hrm. It’s these kinds of details that needed explaining to make the plot and story more enjoyable and thus, more comprehensible.
Now here’s the part that really bugged me. There was one single chapter dedicated to how he and and old ex girlfriend spent the night together making love. It was descriptive. It was long. It was very detailed. At that point I thought to myself “Why would you write a chapter all about that, and why should I care?” I actually skipped ahead. I found it unneccesary and didn’t add anything to the story. So they had sex. Whatever. If I wanted detail and the dirt I’d get myself an erotic novel. I believe it’s not needed here.
The ending was all right. It was something I did rather expect out of a horror novel. Although it did leave me feeling rather as if there should have been a lot more to it. Nevertheless it did succeed in getting me scared in certain parts of the book. It was too bad it fell short in other areas, and the chapter I mentioned above just nearly killed the book for me. Overall, if you don’t mind these shortfalls and just want to read it for the thrills, go right on ahead. The horror moments of the book do deserve credit.
I give it a 5 out of 10.