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Someone in the House by Barbara Michaels
#1
The ending is the most important part of any story. In this case it's the ending that saves it. For the most part it appears to be just a simple ghost story. The haunted house in one of its many variations. It never gets scary, though.

Anne joins a fellow teacher, Kevin, for a summer holiday at his parents' recently acquired manor house, hoping to get some work done on a novel they plan to write together. The parents are on vacation themselves and Kevin is asked to be the housesitter. It's an amazing house, very big, very beautiful, very old, and transported "from the topmost chimney pot to the stones in the cellar", from Warwickshire, England, to Pennsylvania, USA, somewhere in the 1920s. Kevin's aunt Bea, newly divorced, moves in as well. The other important players are Roger, aunt Bea's beau, and Father Steve. Early on they find out the house is haunted, obviously aiming its "glamour" at Kevin, so most of the time Kevin isn't part of the ghosthunting ventures. Each participant has another view while trying to explain the ghosts (science, religion, witchcraft, cults), so there's a lot of discussion going back and forth about it. Books and paperwork are studied to find out about the former residents of the manor. It appears a small part of the house chapel may even be two thousand years old. You wouldn't expect to find hidden objects in a house that has been moved stone for stone from one continent to another, would you? And how about having dead bodies, buried in the crypt, included in the move? Ridiculous, right?
I wonder at the purpose this move has for the story. Why not have the house remain in England? Ah yes, Warwickshire... I see. But it seems the house move created more incongruencies than necessary plot parts.

Writing a ghost story is probably easier for an author than writing about a bad person hiding his real nature while attempting to do evil unto others. Ghosts aren't logical; you may even argue they don't exist. So the author is free to have the ghost act any way she wants. I myself do not care very much for these kinds of stories, let alone the ones that do not even try to be scary. I wish for a logical story that can be explained from beginning to end. The author sometimes even forgot logic in the day-to-day normal occurrences: Where did that crowbar come from all of a sudden?

Barbara Michaels isn't very good at creating likeable characters, so I'll not complain about that this time. Her heroine again is very feministic, which can be seen as a funny touch. I liked the incorporation of house pets in the story. And of course I loved the house. It was very well described and I could see everything clearly in my mind. I did not care for all the theories concerning the haunting. Lots of talk and little action. So giving my verdict I need to consider many pros and cons, ultimately resulting in a 6 out of 10.


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#2
I liked the house, the idea of "vampire girl" like it was called, but I found some characters, like Anne and especially Roger, quite snooty and turnoff.
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