Webb House Publishing, L.L.C.

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By Dana McSwain

IR Rating:
Replete with lyrical prose and bone-chilling horror, ROSENEATH is a twisted, grotesque haunted house story.
IR Approved

After suffering a devastating loss, a young couple hopes to build a new life in an old, abandoned house, but find instead that they’ve bought a living nightmare.

Following a personal tragedy that leaves them both traumatized, Georgia and Nathan Pritchard are desperate to heal from their unimaginable pain and build a new chapter in their lives away from the awful memories. Their road to recovery comes in the form of Roseneath, a charming, yet ramshackle old Victorian home that’s sat abandoned in its overgrown splendor. Georgia, a librarian, has always been drawn to fairytales, and Roseneath seems like it could be hers—until it becomes clear that the house isn’t quite right. With a dead girl haunting the attic, something unholy lurking in the basement, and an ancient evil that threatens Nathan’s soul, the two of them get much more than they bargained for. They’ll have to fight, not only to find their way back to each other, but to survive the house’s endless horrors.

There is more than enough room in the horror genre for classic haunted house stories, and fortunately ROSENEATH is one such story that brings something different to the table. It starts off in familiar territory—a young couple’s hope that a derelict house will be their chance to begin anew—and then weaves an unsettling, psychological terror that slowly builds into a nightmarish crescendo. It feels a bit American Horror Story, a deft blend of deeply human horror and personal internal conflict converging with something that’s unexplainable, supernatural, and evil on a level that’s difficult to comprehend. A clever use of childhood fairytales and nursery rhymes tie together the layered thematic elements, a nuanced connection between Georgia and the house’s ghostly little girl, Edith. Edie is the true beacon of light in the darkness that encroaches, consumes Roseneath—plucky and sharp-witted, she’s wise beyond her years; a sweet young soul.

Georgia and Nathan suffer a great deal throughout the novel’s twisting, sinister plot, constantly pulled away from each other emotionally and physically by their ever-shifting circumstances. The obstacles they face together and apart are framed against their shared backstory, the fairytale of their romance, so it’s easy to want them to survive. Some of the mythological aspects get lost in the shuffle; it feels like there’s a bit of backstory missing to lay the groundwork for the ancient war being waged at the house’s foundations. And it all ends a bit too quickly, but it’s a compelling read the whole way through.

Replete with lyrical prose and bone-chilling horror, ROSENEATH is a twisted, grotesque haunted house story.

~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader