*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
“Yes, smell. Very good, Jane. And who knows the last sense?”
They were so close, and yet so very, very far. The piece of chalk waggled back and forth through the air, desperately seeking an upraised hand. Bonnie scrunched up her brow, racking her memory, but no matter how she tried, she couldn’t come up with the last one.
Ms. McIntosh sighed. She probably didn’t want to stay late any more than the children did.
“Is there anything in the back of the room that jobs anyone’s memory?”
Bonnie looked over her shoulder in unison with her twenty-seven classmates. As they did every day at this time, the kids’ great-grandparents had lined up at the back of the room in preparation of taking them all home. Bonnie’s Gee-Ga waved at her. She smiled and waved back.
To her, Gee-Ga appeared as crisp and clear as a living person, like her teacher. The other great-grandparents were almost see-through, appearing in different shades of ghostly blacks, whites, and grays. Mrs. Anderson, who she knew from spending many afternoons at Jane’s house, was a little clearer, but still not nearly as sharp as her own relative.
“G… ghostsense?” Eric Conners volunteered tentatively.
“Very good, Eric,” Ms. McIntosh said, “but don’t forget to raise your hand.”
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In an alternate reality where ghosts are as commonplace as the weather, the most terrifying thing imaginable is a house not being haunted.
Donna Fitzpatrick runs a surrogacy agency, where ghosts can briefly possess volunteers in order to enjoy carnal pleasures. She’s also working herself into an early grave. But that’s no big deal because death is no worse than puberty. That’s particularly evident in Donna’s twin, Kyle, a self-absorbed roustabout who spends most of his time high on sage. Kyle’s been in arrested development since his motorcycle accident fifteen years ago.
When Donna has a panic attack, Kyle insists she take a vacation at an abandoned mansion. There’s just one small problem: there isn’t a single ghost in Jackson Manor. And while an unhaunted house seems no worse than an oddity at first, soon ghosts go missing, natural disasters consume entire cities, and every afterlife on earth is threatened by the terrible secret behind… The Perfectly Fine House.
The Perfectly Fine House is set in a world where the scariest thing is an unhaunted house, but not only this, a house that actively swallows whole ghosts and doesn’t spit them back out again. An interesting look at a parallel universe where death is indisputably not the end but only a small inconvenience to get to a much freer ‘existence’, this novel explores what death means to us, how we would treat our ‘lives’ if we knew for certain this wasn’t the end of the line, and even the complexities of falling in love with a ghost.
Led by some engaging and undeniably likeable characters, The Perfectly Fine House takes an enticing concept and explores it through the lives of both the living and the dead alike. Donna and her twin brother Kyle live very different lives and have very different ideas about how they should be spending their ‘existence’, yet the fact that Kyle died years ago has done very little to dampen their sibling relationship. With time stretching into eternity, there is little to push parents to properly raise their children when they will always have more time, and myriad ghostly relatives to do much of the heavy lifting for them. Exorcists and ghosts experts are seen as your average tradesmen who get called around when any unruly ghost is acting a little too poltergeist for any living neighbours. And only the ultra rich feel the need to have graves and markers to their physical bodies.
While the universe set up in The Perfectly Fine House is unique and interesting, and the characters are rich and engaging, the conclusion of this story felt a little lack luster. Without revealing any spoilers; I was looking forward to a slightly more hopeful ending. The story moved along well and the motivations were set out strongly but the ending felt like a bit of a drag – even the story is mostly about the dead. In saying this though, it was enjoyable to explore this other world with Donna, Kyle, and their community and to think outside the box for a little while.
The Perfectly Fine House is a story about a house with not one single ghostly entity in it – and that is utterly terrifying.
About the Author –
Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.
Wile E. Young is from Texas, where he grew up surrounded by stories of ghosts and monsters. During his writing career he has managed to both have a price put on his head and publish his southern themed horror stories, both terrifying and bizarre. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in History, which provided no advantage or benefit during his years as an aviation specialist and I.T. guru.
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