Friday, April 22, 2005

Amityville Horror -- The Book Review

Since I already did one rather long post on the book The Amityville Horror, I am going to try to limit this review post. I'm not sure that I have that much more to say about it (UPDATE: turns out I had more to say than I thought). I finished the book last night. Was it good? Yes and no. As I suspected, the fact that I knew it was a hoax did take a lot away from the experience, which I think would have been close to terrifying if I thought it was a true story. And frankly, the book could have been better written. There were too many breathless, exclamation-pointed sentences at the ends of paragraphs and chapters. That punctuation made melodramatic situations that might have otherwise had some punch. One other thing. If you're going to make up an invisible, evil, ghostly companion for a little girl, why do you pick a pig? That's right, a pig. Named Jodie. In a weird way, it was kind of scary, but whenever I got a visual of a pig talking to a little girl, it made me chuckle. I think they (the hoaxers) could have done better than "Jodie."

But. Despite those criticisms, the book did have some very strong, frightening parts. One thing I liked was how relentless it was. The book was about 260 pages, and I would say 220 of them were devoted to various hauntings and frights. This is the kind of thing you can only sustain over the course of a short novel, but the pace of the book did a good job of mimicking the intensity of the effect the haunting had on the family. There were also some very spooky elements to the hauntings, especially the parts with the secret room and hidden well and the part where George Lutz can see through the floor upstairs to where a white, cowled figure is menacing his son.

Overall, if you're looking for a quick read with some hits and some misses (e.g., the marching band), but quite a few genuiunely uneasy images and situations, I think this one is worth a read.


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