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The September House

by Carissa Orlando

The September House by Carissa Orlando X
The September House by Carissa Orlando
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  • Ann B. (Kernville, CA)
    Brilliant haunted house novel with excellently twisted humor
    It's "a house with heavy bones," a place where Margaret can sink her roots into the ground. The gorgeous Victorian with cobalt paint, neat white trim, and a wrap-around porch is going for a price so low, she and Hal triple-check it. So what if, once they move in, they realize the walls bleed and prankster ghosts wreak havoc on the place every September? After the fourth September, Hal has had enough, and off he goes, disappearing. No matter, Margaret is home, and she's not one to run from horror. She remembers The Exorcist as being enjoyable and fairly entertaining. She has learned, after raising a daughter, and especially over the course of her marriage to Hal, that "every situation, no matter how unusual, has rules. They might be strange rules, and they might be difficult to figure out, but once they are learned, they can be followed. And everything works out."
    And what a ride it is to watch how things work out in this supernatural psychological horror novel that takes its cues from classic haunted house literature and movies. There's bits and bobs from Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, The Exorcist, Get Out. It's no wonder that debut novelist Carissa Orlando has a doctorate in clinical-community psychology. Like all great horror writers, she uses this novel to address themes of trauma -- in this case, due to violence and things we don't talk about in families. Great horror novels set up a safe space for us to explore emotions of pain, to help us face our fears, and to find meaning in even our darkest experiences. This is a great horror novel. If you like haunted house stories with generous helpings of dark, twisted humor and emotional resonance, run like you're being chased to The September House.
  • Peggy H. (North East, PA)
    A Dandy and Thought-Provoking Read
    I must begin by admitting that I am a fan of the horror genre, so this is a book that I would normally gravitate towards. The September House, however, intrigues and titillates while fulfilling two criteria of a superior horror read. First, the characters have believable motivations for what might otherwise be unthinkable actions (why stay in a house that is harming you?...why stay in a relationship where you are being beaten?). Second, there is a reasonable backstory for the house itself. The scariest tales are those that we can believe are possible. After all, what force is stronger than the love of a mother for her child?
  • Regina G. (Groveland, FL)
    Wow. Just WOW.
    I don't always jostle a few books at a time, but it was the case here. I had a book to read for my book club, another for a presentation I'm preparing, one more for another event, and of course, The September House. The one I couldn't wait to get back to each time was The September House.

    I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed the world-building and felt the main characters were fully fleshed out and vivid. The two main female characters were not perfect, but you understood their motivations through their thoughts and actions. The story came about organically, and I particularly enjoyed the little secrets and extra story details that came out slowly and surprisingly at different points as Margaret was sharing her story. ("Wait. What? Did I just read that? That changes things.") For instance, Hal - there was a building of his character that felt real, and then you come to realize it's a very different scenario that is happening in this marriage than you initially thought.

    At many points in the book, I was scared. Some characters are very troubling, and as you learn more about them, you start to understand the truly terrifying situation Margaret and Hal are in (and later, Katherine). There are questions you have, such as "Why don't they just leave every September and come back in October?" that are answered quite convincingly.

    The book was so good that I was worried about how it would end. Would it be satisfying? A million times yes. I finished the book at 3 am - not a particularly great time to finish a horror novel but I couldn't put it down. Although I didn't want the characters to end in the situation they were in, it was bittersweet, it was exhausting, it was awful, it was surprising, and it was satisfying.

    The description of the book includes this line: "Margaret is not like most people." This is an understatement, and I'm happy to have made her acquaintance. I hope you enjoy this gem of a horror novel, and the story the talented author has crafted.
  • Carolyn B
    Horror Thriller
    I really enjoyed this book. I found myself looking forward to reading it just to find out what was going to happen next. Margaret and Hal find the house of their dreams, but the house is haunted by a wide variety of characters. The characters are well developed and interesting. September is the haunting month and all the characters have their own method of expressing themselves. The house bleeds and of course, there is a basement that has its own horror.
  • Liz B.
    Great Horror Story
    Wow, it’s been a while since I read a horror story and this one did not disappoint! I could not read it fast enough, wondering how the end would turn out. There’s a great deal of the supernatural involved here and I felt it added quite nicely to the story. I found myself rooting for Margaret, even when I wasn’t sure which direction the book would take. Favorite character must be Fredricka.
  • Judy M. (Millwood, NY)
    Stretches the premise a little too far
    Lots of humor in this - descriptions of the creepy characters is excellent. However, I think the premise is overworked and, by the end, it had gotten too absurd
  • Charla Wilson
    Best Haunted House Story
    Margaret and husband Hal finally were able to buy their own home. The home was a beautiful, old Victorian house. Margaret loved the house so much so that even after discovering that her beautiful house was haunted, she refused to leave it. The month of September was always dreaded because during this month there was always more blood, more ghosts, and more chaos. As September approached again Hal suddenly disappeared and their daughter Katherine left her job to help Margaret find him. Margaret works diligently to keep Katherine from being affected by the ghosts and all the terrible things that take place in September. This is a huge undertaking for Margaret because the house is constantly being pounded by birds that pile up on the ground dead, blood flowing down the walls, a ghost that bites, and so much more. The story is well written and full of surprises. If you love haunted houses stories then this is the book for you.
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