The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

I read a review of The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons at Regular Ruminations, and I just had to get it myself. I know that Anne Rivers Siddons is a famous writer, but I have not previously read anything by her. This book is an older one, published in 1977 or 1978. As far as I can deduct from various pages about Anne Rivers Siddons, this is her only mystery/horror-story.

I think it was a good read. Books set in a contemporary environment, but still 20+ years ago, are sometimes a bit weird to read. They are not yet classics from a historical period, like if they were written in the 1920’es or Second World War, but on the other hand they are not really modern either. They sort of fall between, and sometimes the lack of cell phones, internet and other modern stuff makes an otherwise contemporary story seem slightly off. Afraid I am not really making myself clear here, and this book is definitely not suffering much from being from the 1970’es (mentions of the women’s clothes almost felt modern, since the 1970’es are rather retro anyway).

It takes place in a well off neighborhood in Atlanta among a set of neighbors and good friends. The 30-something couple Walter and Colquitt (awful names by the way) are the main protagonists, although the Guthrie and the Swanson-couples also feature prominently. Walter and Colquitt are the next door neighbors to an empty lot, where an up-and-coming architect builds a modern house, which everyone loves initially. Walter and Colquitt were not overly enthusiatic about having a house build next to them, but they also fall in love with this new, fabulous house.

Soon after the first, young couple has moved in, unspeakable horrors begin to take place, involving each couple (Walter and Colquitt, the Guthries and the Swansons) in turn, so that the book is actually made up of three stories within a frame. The frame which those stories are placed in, is Walter and Colquitt’s interview with People, in which they, in retrospect, tell how they think the house is haunted. In which ways, I shall not tell, you will have to read yourself.

I wasn’t very scared, but the books definitely has its horror moments, and the writing is fluid, although I do think that Rivers Siddons sometimes uses too many words in her descriptions. There is a bit too much of not showing but telling. All in all a good, entertaining read. Recommended.

Reviewed by Regular Rumination (click link above). Also reviewed by Eva at A Striped Armchair.