“HOUSE 23” (Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Amy Seidman
HOUSE 23 is a part murder mystery, part home invasion horror, written by Eli Yance and published by Skyhorse Publishing. The story follows Joseph Lee, a man who seemingly has everything: A beautiful, supportive and wealthy wife, Jennifer, alongside a large home in the English countryside. One minute, he is showering to ready himself for a holiday get-together with his family; the next, he is spitting blood through now-broken teeth and dizzy from a bloody wound to his head. As he stumbles in a bid to get downstairs to his wife, he tumbles down the steps and lands upon Jennifer’s lifeless body. Now living as the town pariah and being suspected as Jennifer’s murderer, Joseph finds comfort in his new neighbors, Riso and Zala, who shares a striking resemblance to Jennifer, yet something sinister lies beneath the couple’s appearance.
HOUSE 23 is the kind of book that caters to readers like me. It is a short read, clocking in at 209 pages, and the writing is tight and succinct. Yet Yance has a way with maximizing the incredibly vivid imagery he uses with his careful choice of words. That is what I consider the hardest part of writing and reading for that matter: Keeping the story engaging by creating something so visually effective for the reader to play out in their imaginations with as little effort on their part possible. I really admire the skill that it takes to do that, so kudos to Yance in that respect.
Yance also creates very interesting characters that are developed so well that this writer can see HOUSE 23 very easily being done as a stage production. The characters really jump out at you; hell, I could describe Jennifer to a police sketch artist better than I could describe any of my closest friends most likely (sorry buddies!). Yance nicely lets their personalities unfold very naturally, which I really appreciate. It is a pet peeve of mine when authors bombard you with an almost listicle-style character assessment of the players, as if to say, “Let’s just get this out of the way.”
This writer found HOUSE 23 to be the perfect read. I have tried to objectively find fault in it and the only thing I can say is that I would have liked the last quarter of the story to be a little longer. However, with the book as is, it is not really problematic at all. HOUSE 23 has strong character development (despite the characters not always being the most likable), beautiful imagery that jumps off the page and just enough suspense and plot twists to keep you guessing and engaged. The book runs with fine pacing and the tightly crafted flow of the wording makes it a very easy read. Eli Yance has an upcoming novel called CONSEQUENCE, and you better believe I will be reading it in one sitting.