Review copy provided courtesy of the author
In Pasadena, California, Ruth is an elderly widow, Paul and Donna are her new neighbors across the street turning their home into an extreme haunted house, and Asher is a college student with a girlfriend who loves danger. All these characters collide, and someone will hit their breaking point.
I honestly wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this story. Was it going to be horror? Or more of a thriller? That uncertainty stayed in place for most of my reading experience, but in the end I would say it's a character focused, slow burning thriller.
Now to rip off the bandaid so I can get to the good stuff. Something about the ending just didn't fully land with me. I didn't find it bad by any means, it just didn't seem to have enough build up to have the impact I really wanted from it. I definitely did NOT see it coming though, and can see it being incredibly satisfying and shocking for other readers, so I think it could just me on that front. There was also the introduction of a (possible?) supernatural element that didn't seem to go anywhere (maybe I missed something?).
Now for the part I like! The majority of this book is intensely character focused, and I LOVED it! It felt like O'Bergh took such great care with his characters and was meticulous in who they are and what makes them tick, as well as how they interact and perceive each other. However, this could cause the story to feel like it's dragging, but I found it quite fascinating. Even minor characters feel distinct, and I very quickly felt like I knew exactly who they were (Judy in particular with her penchant for the word "invigorating" felt like she had to be drawn from a real person).
Overall for me, this ended up being a "it's the journey, not the destination" kind of read, and I'm not mad about it. O'bergh has a polished voice, and shows such care for character development, which makes me so excited to follow his work.
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