BOOK: House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker

I should really start jotting down where I hear about books, because it happens so often that I’ll get to the end of one and wonder who in the HELL recommended it to me. This book is one such book. And the foolish thing was that I KNEW Frank Peretti was a Christian horror novel writer, and I was fooled into thinking maybe this one wouldn’t totally make me insane with the Godliness. I saw a movie based on one of his novels a couple of years ago, Hangman’s Curse, and despite some gentle Christian overtones (the family prays a couple of times — this I can handle), I really enjoyed it. It starred ex-Boyfriend David Keith as the father in a family of four, all of them undercover government agents who would infiltrate schools to solve crimes (kind of like 21 Jump Street, except with a whole family at the helm). It had pretty decent dialogue and a fairly decent storyline. So, I was fooled. Fooled, I tell you! Into thinking this novel might actually be good!

Because, as you may have deduced by now, it royally stunk. It actually started out really bad in a thoroughly good kind of way. I was immediately sucked into the story, despite the fact it was completely ridiculous, and it was a real page turner until I got to the end — the end where suddenly I realized the direction the story was going in, and that there was about to be some serious, serious Jesus-speak.

The story opens, as most horror stories do, with a young couple driving along a back road in the woods at night. Suddenly, they hit a bump and all four of their tires go flat. They get out to see why, and find that someone had put a string of nails across the road. They set off on foot to try to find a phone, and stumble across a big house that appears to be a bed and breakfast. They go inside, but the owners are nowhere to be found (and neither is a phone). Just as they are wondering what to do next, another couple comes into the room and, eerily, has roughly the same story to tell — their car was disabled, they came across this house, they can’t find the owners, etc..

The four start poking around, and eventually do find the B&B’s proprietors — a crazy woman, a crazy man, and their even crazier son. Soon, the two couples are in mortal danger, trapped in a big maze in the basement full of hallways and rooms that seem to change position at will. There’s also a little girl down there with them — and a psychopathic ghost they soon realize wants them dead.

So far so good, until it turns out the killer is Satan and the little girl is. . . well, I suppose I shouldn’t say any more. I’m not a Christian, but I’m extremely tolerant of religious stuff, as long as it doesn’t get in my way. But this novel was good old fashioned horror fun until the God stuff took over at the end, and even though I can hardly argue that the ending “made no sense” because of that (like the rest of the book made any sense?), it just didn’t fit AT ALL. We were suddenly supposed to think the four victims were major sinners who had a lot of confessing to do and would fry unless they accepted Jesus as their personal savior — and, frankly, I’m just too tolerant of flaws to think people deserve to burn forever because they’ve made some mistakes. But let’s not get into a debate about religion here — I really am “to each his/her own” about the whole shebang.

My point is that this is a ridiculous, but also very entertaining, novel until the last 30 pages or so. And then it takes a big nosedive into the Land of Ugh. If you’re a Christian, maybe you’ll like the ending — I can’t really tell. But if you’re not and you don’t like to have Christian beliefs whapped over your head like a billy club, this probably isn’t the novel for you. You can go ahead and safely rent Hangman’s Curse, though. It’s not brilliant, but I have a weakness for David Keith that made its flaws pretty forgivable overall. The end!


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8 Responses to “BOOK: House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker”

  1. Jessie Says:

    I *am* a Christian, and I don’t like getting whapped over the head with the Christian-theme billy club when it makes no sense. Thanks for warning me.

  2. megwood Says:

    Good to know! 🙂

  3. Alisa Says:

    I wonder if it would help me if I decide to read the book, to remember that I was baptist, (my father is cathlic) my mother is Jewish. 🙂

  4. Liz Says:

    I, too, am a Christian (Episcopalian – just don’t call us “Catholic Lite” – Feh!). I’m in favor of supporting Christian views, but I get very annoyed and defensive when hit over the head with ideas like “you can only be saved if you make Jesus Christ your personal savior,” or any rhetoric that suggests “only MY beliefs are right!” I claim the right to believe in what I believe, and resent having to either hide it, or cloak it in “multiculturalism,” but I also believe that NO ONE has ALL the answers, and God wants us to share our beliefs, and respect each other! That said, I’ll get down off my soapbox. 🙂

    I should read this book, and see if I agree that it does come on too strong. The movie of “Hangman’s Curse” was pretty good, so we’ll see…. I must confess that I saw a horror movie that was set in a Mormon community, and I didn’t realize it (the title had “Brigham” in it, so I should have guessed). When they showed scenes of their worship, I thought it was really confusing and weird. If I had understood ahead of time that this was Mormon worship, I really don’t think I would have reacted so negatively. But it goes to show that prejudice can crop up even when we (I) think we’re so open-minded!

    BTW, there was a rather good TV series on a few years back called “The Burning Zone.” I was thinking they were going to delve into the power of prayer, but the series was canceled before that could happen. Hmmm – maybe that was one of the reasons it was canceled! No, it probably just didn’t have high enough ratings!

  5. betty Says:

    If you are a christian and grownded in the word of Godand you know what you believe and love to read for intertainment just enjoy the book.Don’t be picky. I love fition. That is what it is. If you don’t like God thrown in your face, don’t read christian books . that is why i read them, no bad language and  if by chance it offends me. i don’t read that aurthors books any more. Its just an escape from reality for awhile. I guess mabe i don’t like reviews. Imullis like to make up my own mind. I liked the book House. thanks!
    Just putting in my two cents ,Jesus
    christ is the only way.

    • megwood Says:

      Thanks for your perspective on this book, Betty! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have you seen the movie? I rented it recently but haven’t had time to review it. Actually liked it a lot better than the book! Plus, Michael Madsen! Love him! Anyway, I think if you liked the book, you might also enjoy the movie — give it a try and let me know what you think!

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