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by John Everson
Let me start by saying that I'm not a fan of slasher fiction. I am, however, a big fan of haunted house stories and that's what led me to this story, innocently unaware of the author's other novels and prevalence of violence therein.
It's a great premise; a house located next to a cemetery is the local 'haunted house' that every small town has, only this one was owned by a witch who actually does still haunt the place. An entrepreneur gets a bright idea to convert the old house into a Halloween amusement and a collection of Horror enthusiast decorators and make-up people get involved creating themes based on popular Horror movies.
While it isn't what I would call great literature, I have to give credit to the author for creating the right atmosphere despite the fact that I haven't seen most of the Horror films referred to, though I did go look up the Goblin soundtrack to Suspiria on YouTube.
The story kept my attention all the way through and despite the main protagonist, Mike, being the poster boy for stupidity by way of being led my his genitals and too much beer, the variety and distinctiveness of characters was really well done. It wasn't until the last few chapters that things got messy and I did have to stop between chapters to decide if I could continue, but by then I needed to know what would happen and who might survive.
The descriptions were well done, though graphic, in a way that didn't feel gratuitous. Considering the level of violence it reached, that's a pretty good trick. People who like slasher Horror will love this. Personally I'm too squeamish to ever want to go there again.