Today I finally finished this book that I didn’t know would take me so long to read. “House” by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker is a book that I picked up because of the cover. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, but that’s what I do. I judge a lot. That’s because I’m a visual design expert. Ok, I’m far removed from my years of graphic design, but I know good design and I liked the cover of this book. Now, I knew about Frank Peretti, and I’ve seen Ted Dekker’s books, both of which are “Christian” writers. This book, however, was in the horror genre, so I figured it wouldn’t be heavy on the Christendom. I can say that it’s not overtly preachy, unless you really seek it out, there’s actually not a lot about “Christianity” in this book, unless you’re a diehard and you really make it part of what you’re reading. There are elements of that, but not enough to convert, nor pain anyone that is not a believer. I found that to be comforting as the horror got turned up to 11 in the third act.
The Same Old Plot
At first, I didn’t like “House” by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. The reason why is simple, it’s absolutely derivative. The opening is exactly what you would find in a 1970s horror movie. A couple is arguing, only to get pulled over by a cop. He lets them go, but as they move towards their destination, they hit a spike strip and their car’s tires are flattened. They find an old creepy house, and decide to be innkeepers until the owners show up. They are a creepy family, with all the tropes that you’d expect from “House of 1,000 Corpses”. Throw in a new mix of people, and a serial killer on the loose and you have the same plot you’ve seen and read one thousand times before. In fact, I almost gave up on the story until things start to go way wrong in the second act. If this were directed by Eli Roth, the gore and blood would get turned up. But alas, this is a bit tame by secular standards, but there’s still some creep factor to consider.
Ditching The Christian Model
There is a sexual element thrown in here. A really perverse one if you catch it. A mentally deranged man is lusting after one of the characters, and is really leaning hard. If this were written by anyone else, there’d be a rape scene, no doubt. It doesn’t get that bad, but there is bondage, and submission throughout, even if it is not hyper sexual, it is definitely there. Think of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The New Generation”, and you get the point of what goes on with that. The full story takes the concepts of being trapped in a haunted house, with the same deranged ideas of slash movies, and then turns it into a supernatural element towards the end. The final chapters are all supernatural with a Russian roulette arc featuring a shotgun. Who is bad and who is good? A shotgun blast is sure to tell, and the tension gets really high at that point.
A Hard Read With Spiritual Undertones
I spent a lot of time in church when I was younger. I know what to look for in Christian literature, and I saw it in the final acts here. There’s an undertone that speaks to redemption, Christ, and belief in Jesus. I can’t complain too much because you spend nearly 300 pages getting wrapped up into a horror story, and then boom, the cross. Now, I say that only because I picked it up, however, the authors don’t overtly push that. They don’t push it hard, they just have it as part of the story arc. That being said, there’s no profanity here, the gore is turned down, while the supernatural elements are trumped up. There is a pretty good set of actions in the end, including an ax to the dome, which was classic horror, but other than a few spots here and there, this was not nearly as hardcore as I expected.
Star Rating For “House” by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker
If I didn’t know that the authors were Christians, and I never grew up in the church, this would be a good horror book. It was made into a movie that was rated R, so it translates well in that genre. However, I can’t give this more than 3 out of 5. I wanted to love it, but aside from a few chapters of gore and creep factor, it left me wanting more. I’m a big horror fan, and this is a lightweight in that genre. However, there is enough to satisfy, so if you have a week to read a classic horror throwback, then this one may very well do it for you. I enjoyed it enough, it just wasn’t my favorite.
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Did you read “House” by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker? If so, drop me a line in the comments and let me know your thoughts.