Come On Up to the House
By Dane Cobain
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
(Not entirely sure on publishing info – please verify)
Genre: Horror Novella & Screenplay
Doesn’t life seem nasty, brutish and short?
This horror novella and accompanying screenplay tells the story of Darran Jersey, a troubled teenager who moves into a house that’s inhabited by the malevolent spirit of his predecessor.
As time goes by and the family begins to settle, Darran begins to take on more and more of the qualities of James, the dead teenager who committed a bloody suicide.
As tragedy after tragedy threatens to destroy the family, Darran’s mother Alice decides to leave the house behind and start afresh, but is it too late?
Find out when you Come On Up to the House…
This is not my first experience with the author’s work. I previously reviewed No Rest For the Wicked and hosted a guest post by the author. After recently participating in a cover reveal for Come On Up to the House, I was happy to accept a copy of this hauntingly enticing novella for my honest review. This would be my first encounter with an actual novella followed by the screenplay. I welcomed the chance to do a brief comparison and share my thoughts.
The synopsis really says it all here. This is the story of a family moving into a home that is still occupied by a former and deceased teenage tenant, James. It is not long before we realize that the current teenager Darran, now residing in James’ old room is behaving strangely and changing. Shortly after ignoring the warnings of their new neighbor, the family begins to understand that there is something wrong with the house at 23 Wentworth Road.
This is your standard haunted house material. You have a dark past looming over the family’s new home, and a number of questionable and concerning occurrences that immediately begin to take place as the Jersey’s attempt to settle. Fun stuff!
I wanted to find a greater appreciation for this novella, as I really enjoyed the previous reading experience with No Rest For the Wicked. However, I feel the events unfolded so rapidly that I was left with little time to absorb what was actually happening. It read as a terrific horror novel that someone had sliced the middle out of and decided to hand me the beginning and ending only. It was missing the mark because there just was not enough. There has to be a certain amount of realism to really rev up the creep factor, and at this pace there was simply no time.
The characters were very simplified. We were provided with enough depth to understand that this was a family with a bit of a history. The parents had suffered some hardships that forced them to move. The three Jersey children start off as normal as one could expect, and originally there was a solid credibility established. Unfortunately, there was no time to connect with any of them on a personal level.
Their actions and reactions began to feel unconvincing. I believe this was intended to an extent. We were witnessing the house and the effect it was having on the family. It was changing them, and normally the odd behavior would fit very well into the current story. Again though, this is where I believe the novella fell victim to length and pace. Everything moved forward in such a manner that it felt hurried and it was too difficult to connect with the Jersey’s. More time was needed to established a real sense of relationship with the reader.
The stage was set rather well. We are introduced to 23 Wentworth Road in a grisly manner that creates the necessary environment. The language is at times volatile, and there is no shortage of blood. There is an instant trepidation surrounding the home, and the author uses the appropriate amount of history and local stigma associated with the house. So I really have no qualms with the atmosphere or the actual setting. It was present. It just needed more time to be utilized properly and fully materialize.
The author’s writing is concise with just enough descriptive narration happening to paint a solid picture at times. I appreciated his ability to convey the events that were occurring in a fluent manner. However, during other times the narration became too straight-forward. The pace seemed rushed, and I felt like I was being pushed through the story. It was inconsistent at certain levels. Again, I feel the writing was there, but the length of the story was the biggest hang up for me. Maybe this should have been an actual novel?
I did decided to read through the included screenplay. While it was the same story, it helped me to gain some appreciation for the events that had occurred within Come On Up to the House. I was able to slow down and visualize what was happening to the Jerseys and on Wentworth Rd. I rarely say this, but I feel this is a case where there would be so much more potential in the film. However, were the author to decide to re-approach this as a full novel, I would definitely give it another fair read. I still had fun reading this last night, and even found myself waking from a bad dream. So clearly something was working, and for that I am giving it 3 stars.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
You can support Come On Up to the House and pre-order here.