Hi friends! I received this book from Oblivion Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book has already been published, so you can read it now if you’re interested! Although I received this book for free, all thoughts and feedback are my own.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
The House that Fell from the Sky is a standalone by author Patrick Delaney that isn’t your run-of-the-mill haunted house story. Twenty-nine year old Scarlett Vantassel isn’t happy with how her life has turned out. After dropping out of school and lacking inspiration with her once-successful horror blog, Scarlett returns home to connect with her family, friends, and roots again. However, the town of Winterview is in for a surprise when one October morning, a large Gothic mansion appears downtown, drawing questions and bringing horror to the area. A year later, it is announced that there will be a competition by lottery to spend a night in the home with a prize of a million dollars to those who succeed. When Scarlett and her friends end up as the chosen few, they will have to face horrors they didn’t know existed.
This book was a lot. For a very average-sized novel, I spent more time reading this than I have any book in a number of months. I feel like a common theme among books I’ve been reading recently, especially those of that fall into the horror/thriller genre, is that they’re often full of great ideas and concepts but lacking in execution. Unfortunately, The House that Fell from the Sky falls into this category to a near perfect degree. While the concept is exciting and I love a good haunted house story, the implementation is poor, especially in terms of writing and character development.
I really don’t enjoy saying that a book doesn’t have a lot of positives. For me, this was the case. However, I do believe that this book could be great for other people with different tastes in the genre. Some of the descriptions given for events and environments within the house were detailed and really creepy. The concepts concerning what went on inside the house (specifically with Scarlett and Vincent) where fun to read even if they were never fully explained at the end.
It’s hard to count an idea as a positive if it was poorly executed, but the concept for this novel was super unique and intriguing to me. I know it’s a cliché but I enjoy the competition/battle royale/survival of the fittest trope and based on the synopsis, this book appeared to fit that niche. I would be ranting and raving over this book if that trope was more fully developed and played out instead of the direction it chose to take, but I do think, all things considered, that this plot is unique and has a lot of interesting concepts.
This review has taken me a while to write, and I don’t want to spend a long time nitpicking each negative aspect of this novel, so I’m going to focus on two main issues that hindered my enjoyment of this book the most: writing style and character development.
If I had to guess the target audience of this book based solely off writing style, I would assume that this book is for middlegrade readers who don’t have a lot of experience with horror novels apart from the occasional creepypasta. Taking into account the language and content of this book, I end up confused, as the material itself is suited for more of an adult or YA audience. There’s a lot of telling and little showing, and what few instances of showing there is is followed up by an explanatory clause that made it feel like the author didn’t trust me to follow along with his writing (a huge personal pet peeve of mine). The prose tended to be long and descriptive without saying much, and I feel like a more effective story could have been told in half the length.
I think the character developmental flaws is tied in to the strange writing choices, but is still a separate topic I think is important to discuss. It’s stated numerous times that all four of the main characters in this story are in their late 20s, yet constantly speak and think as if they couldn’t be more than seventeen (and none of this would be an issue if the author changed their ages!). None of the characters were overly likeable, more for a lack of development and ability to sympathize with any of them than any unlikeable personality traits they were given. Character relationships seemed flimsy and undeveloped, so the consequences of the climax of the novel weren’t anything that hit me too hard; even the characters didn’t seem too affected by the outcome of the plot. A shame, since improving the characterization of the protagonists could have saved this whole story.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I really, really wanted to rate The House that Fell from the Sky more than 2 out of 5 stars. I had never heard of this book before I requested it from NetGalley, but the cover and synopsis drew me in. I’m disappointed it didn’t live up to its premise, and the subpar writing style and character development made it somewhat of a slog to get through. I think there’s a real gem of an idea here, and I’d be interested in reading more from the author, but this one fell a little flat for me, although I would recommend it for a younger horror reader or a YA fan who is more of a plot-driven reader.
Buy The House that Fell from the Sky by Patrick Delaney here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.