Wednesday, October 31, 2012

{Guest Post} Ryan's review of Burnt Offerings and a Special Halloween List of Old School Horror Novels

I'd like to welcome Ryan from Wordsmithonia to Castle Macabre today! He is sharing his excellent review of the book (and film) Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco.  After the review, I'm sharing some other old school horror novels and their films, just for Halloween.  These were all read by me in my pre-blogging days.

What Marian Rolfe really wants, more than anything else, is to get out of New York City for the summer. She doesn't want to deal with her neighbors, the heat, or same daily routine she's been doing the previous summers. When she talks her husband, Ben, into looking at summer homes to rent, she really lays it on thick. She finds a old country estate on Long Island that seems to be perfect for them. Maybe a little too perfect, considering the price is only $900 and they are able to stay for the entire summer. Against his better judgement, Ben packs up his family, including their son David and Ben's elderly aunt, Elizabeth.

Once they arrive, the rundown manor quickly grows on them and they settle into a comfortable routine. Their idyllic oasis is hiding a ton of secrets though, secrets that may kill them all in the end.

Two years ago, around Halloween, I caught the movie version of this on TV. Since I had nothing else to do at the time, I settled in on the couch and got lost in what turned out to be a cheesy, but scary movie. Ever since then I had wanted to read the book, but trying to get a hold of it proved to be harder than I had first thought it would be. I finally found it at the flea market last year but had not time to read it until recently. I have to say, that now that I'm done, I loved it even more than I thought I would.

The overall story line itself is pretty simple. A brother and sister who own a sprawling, occasionally rundown, country estate rent it out for the summer every few years to a "deserving" family, the bigger the better. All they ask is that their elderly mother, who stays in her own room and will never be seen, be allowed to stay there. All the renters need to do is bring a try to her sitting room three times a day. What the siblings don't tell their renters, is that the house and it's grounds can only come back to life by draining the life out of them. With each act of violence, each drop of blood spilled, or with each death, the house is rejuvenated and comes back to the glory of it's heyday. What they really don't want to tell them is the wife, will by the end of their stay take the "mothers" place in that lonely room.

Now, that may sound pretty cheesy, and it is, but the way this horror wove the story together is brilliant. There are so many creepy factors, like the emotionless pictures on display in the mother's sitting room. The growing fascinating and love that Marian starts to have for every aspect of the house. The violence in the pool when Ben came close to drowning David. The mysterious illness and wasting away of Aunt Elizabeth. The fact that nobody else on the island is willing to admit that they have even heard of the house or it's family.

The atmosphere this author was able to pack into the book is simply amazing. There is a lingering sense of danger on every page, but it's a danger that lays just beneath the surface. It's not visible all the time, but it's presences is felt with every word. This is what horror should be like, not the crap that gets spoon fed to us now days. This will be a book that I read over and over again when I need something to give me nightmares.

This one is probably my favorite horror novel!
Can any soul survive?
Regarded as the Mount Everest of haunted houses, Belasco House has witnessed scenes of almost unimaginable horror and depravity. Two previous expeditions to investigate its secrets met with disaster, the participants destroyed by murder, suicide or insanity. Now a new investigation has been mounted - four strangers, each with his or her own reason for daring the unknown torments and temptations of the mansion...

It was almost as if time had not touched the village of Cornwall Coombe. The quiet, peaceful place was straight out of a bygone era, with well-cared-for Colonial houses, a white-steepled church fronting a broad Common. Ned and Beth Constantine chanced upon the hamlet and immediately fell in love with it. This was exactly the haven they dream of. Or so they thought.

For Ned and his family, Cornwall Coombe was to be come a place of ultimate horror.

Entranced and terrified, the reader of The Other is swept up in the life of a Connecticut country town in the thirties-and in the fearful mysteries that slowly darken and overwhelm it.

Originally published in 1971, The Other is one of the most influential horror novels ever written. Its impeccable recreation of small-town life and its skillful handling of the theme of personality transference between thirteen-year-old twins led to widespread critical acclaim for the novel, which was successfully filmed from Thomas Tryon's own screenplay.

This post is part of....



Thanks for visiting our little corner of the horror universe. Your comments are appreciated.
Please note: Your comment will appear after site owner approval.

  1. Thanks for having me. I love the sound of the books you mentioned. I keep wanting to read Hell House but have yet to do it. The other book I would like to mention is The Sentinel by Jeffery Knovitz, love it.

    1. Glad you like the post! Thanks again for sharing your review with us. I didn't mention The Sentinel because I have not read it yet. The movie is truly creepy though. Another old favorite. =O)

  2. Okay, Burnt Offerings sounds like a totally freaky book. I get how it could come off as cheesy in film form, but even Ryan's synopsis & review freak me out a little bit. Great pick for Halloween!

    1. I think you would enjoy this one. And Bette Davis is fabulous in the movie.

- See more at:
- See more at: