Someone’s In The House by Samuel Bonner
Not all haunting is supernatural…
Rita is a teenage mother who has managed to survive everything life has thrown at her. After finally escaping her abusive, drug-addicted boyfriend, Rita thought she’d found reprieve in her new home, away from the beatings and the constant humiliation. But her nightmare was just about to begin.
It started with simple intimidations; a bump in the night, strange scrawling on the front door, sinister ornaments left in the garden. At first, she thinks it’s neighbourhood kids playing tricks on her, but it soon becomes apparent that something is eerily amiss in the area. Raving lunatics scream into the night while fiendish strangers skulk on every street corner, festering within the shadows.
Now, something terrible is happening in the house on Elmbridge Road. Suddenly, Rita has the horrible feeling that the noises she hears at night might not be her imagination, that they might actually be footsteps creeping up the stairs. And then there is the shuffling in the attic.
You could argue that I am either the perfect audience or entirely the wrong audience for this book. Someone’s in the House is exactly the sort of fiction I probably shouldn’t be reading. The prospect of someone being in my house unannounced while I sleep fills me with a deep sense of dread. For me this is the stuff of nightmares. I enjoy the horror genre immensely but the thought of reading a book about one of my own worst fears had me approaching this novel somewhat nervously.
Bonner’s writing very effectively taps into multiple primal fears that I’m sure many of us share – isolation, madness and the unknown to name just a few. The novel explores the horror of real life and its brutally realistic approach makes for a gripping read.
The characterisation is where I feel the novel really excels. When the reader is initially introduced to Rita, she has reached rock bottom. She is living with her partner, Sean, who is as violent as he is manipulative. His temper, fuelled by drug addiction, is out of control and after one particularly terrifying encounter Ruth flees with her young son. A chance meeting with an old friend offers a glimmer of hope and the chance of a new life, but appearances can be deceptive. At first glance, Rita appears to be a very straightforward character. It is only as the plot develops that Bonner reveals her hidden depths. Rita displays great strength in one moment, and a delicate fragility the next. The situation that she and her son, Luke, find themselves in starts off as distressing but thing soon spirals completely out of control.
Be warned, however, if you are easily offended – then this book isn’t for you. The author touches upon, what many may consider, harrowing topics. Sexual abuse, violence and mental health issues all play a part in this story. Personally I’m glad that I took the chance with this book, there is some insightful social commentary hidden amongst the pages. This is undoubtedly a dark subject matter and it’s not always a comfortable book to read but it is certainly as thought provoking as it is horrific. Last year I read Meat by Joseph D’Lacey and I was surprised to discover a horror title that challenged my preconceptions. I think this title will have to join that select list.
When a book or a film genuinely creeps me out like this, disturbing imagery can pretty much guarantee that, I have a habit of sleeping badly and occasionally wake up rather abruptly. It’s likely that Someone’s In The House is going to stay with me for quite a while. I apologise to Mrs. Cheesecake regarding my nightmares in advance.
Someone’s In The House is published by Pen Press and will be available from 21st January 2012.