BOOK: The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff (2006)

I meant to post about this entertaining little horror novel last week for your Halloween reading assignment, but I failed miserably (obvs.) because I continue to be massively swamped and the more I fall behind on reviews here, the more intimidating it has become to sit down and write something.  Maybe it’s time for a “draft post” purge in which I just haiku the heck out of everything from the last two months?  I’ll think about it.

Prometheous in 5-7-5, though?  Have mercy.

I wasn’t expecting much from this novel — never heard of the author, the book flap told me it was her first book, etc. etc.  But I was drawn in by the plot description on the jacket because, in short, I am a terrible sucker for a good spooky ghost story.

And, surprisingly enough, considering the things I’m about to tell you about it, this novel is, in fact, a pretty good spooky ghost story!  Hooray!  It’s set in a small private college, which has emptied out for Thanksgiving, but for a few students who have stayed behind to avoid their respective dysfunctional families.  The five students end up meeting the first night of the long holiday weekend when the loneliness drives them each to the common room to watch TV.  Bored, one of them whips out some booze, another a joint, and the group quickly becomes tight (double entendre intended).  Then one of them finds a Ouija board, and they decide, hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

Ha ha!  To a group of pot-smoking, underage-drinking teenagers with a Ouija board?  Oh, nothing.  Go for it, you guys . . .

Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same exact thing in that moment — you’re thinking you know exactly where this story is headed, and for pity’s sake, if people are going to keep writing the same damn stories over and over and make money off them, what the hell is taking YOU so long, you insufferable loser?  (Okay, it’s possible you weren’t thinking that “insufferable loser” part.  Though if you were, I feel your pain.)

Making matters worse (worse, even, than a wholly predictable plot!), the five main characters are all classic stereotypes.  For the gents, we have the indie musician (updated metal-head), the jock, and the nerd; for the  ladies, the socially inept girl and the bad (but vulnerable!) girl.  But despite the fact the story is one that’s been told a bazillion times, and the characters aren’t even remotely unique, the story was still a success for me (at least until the ending, but that’s hardly rare for ghost stories, in my experience — it all has to be explained somehow, after all, and it’s almost never in a way I find satisfying).  The Ouija board gets a lot of action in the story, to pretty thrilling and chilling effect, I have to say, and as the behavior of the ghost dude escalated, I found myself staying up later and later at night, having a harder and harder time putting the book down.  Good sign!

Definitely recommended for fans of the Ouija board genre (what?  it’s a thing!), and I have another of Sokoloff’s novels checked out from the library right now.  Given the fact this was her first novel, I’m willing to give a second or third one a try  — see if she can keep up the spookiness while also taking some brave steps toward originality.  If she does, I’ll let you know.  (Eventually, anyway.  Possibly in 5-7-5.)

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7 Responses to “BOOK: The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff (2006)”

  1. Liz Says:

    A new Breakfast Club
    Finds a dorky ouija board –
    Sounds like a good book!

    (Hee! How’d I do?)

  2. RogerBW Says:

    Alien prequel?
    Not the film you’re looking for.
    Dumb folks do dumb things.

  3. Liz Says:

    Have you ever tried
    Doing a Boyfriend review
    In that haiku style?

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