The House by the Cemetery

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

This story follows the paths of a few different sets of characters, which all converge as the story progresses. It opens with a group of girls going through a haunted house where one of them disappears, it quickly switches to two friends in a bar, Perry and Mike. Perry has decided that he's going to use an old derelict building out by Bachelor's Grove cemetery for a haunted house project for the month of October, and wants Mike to take on the job of fixing it up enough so that it won't fall down around the crew and patrons. We get a small insight into Mike at this point, we know that he's divorced and down and out on his luck with no concrete ongoing jobs. Reluctantly he accepts the job and we're thrown into the first half of the book which is based largely around Mike's construction on this house. We meet Katie and Emery who 'miraculously' show up and disappear, which is where I worked out the go with these characters rather quickly. We also follow Jeanie and Bong who are a couple, Jeanie is a SFX makeup artist, and is hoping to be put on staff when the house opens, with Bong being dragged along for the ride as a model. And also we are introduced to Jillie and Ted, who are paranormal investigators who have explored the house many times previously, Jillie is incredibly unhappy about the construction and soon to be attraction that the house will be turned into, she is dead set against it, and convinced that it will stir up more trouble than anyone knows what to do with. 

The first half of the story, as stated above, is based mostly around Mike and the house construction, to me it was pretty obvious what Katie was about, even if I didn't know the EXACT details, however, it didn't take away from the story and there was still questions that I needed answered. I did find it a little bit on the nose with how desperate Mike became with Katie, I understand that he was down in the dump divorcee who hadn't felt the touch of a woman in god knows how long, but I still found it a bit strange, that he would become completely enamored with a strange girl who appears and disappears generally without a word. Was this alluding to the "power" that women supposedly have over men because of their 'womanly wiles'? Or was Mike just THAT desperate and starved for attention? 

The story itself moved at a fairly decent pace, I found myself wanting to know when the other shoe would drop and dare I say, when the shit would hit the fan, because come on, we all knew it was coming. I got a very distinct B-grade horror flick feel in this book that was a mix of Supernatural/Paranormal goings on and Slasher/Gore-Fest explosion, that latter part becomes more prevalent in the last third of the book, so let me say now, if you are NOT a fan of incredibly gory descriptions and goings on, maybe avoid this book as I feel like you will not enjoy what happens. The author definitely showed his appreciation for the horror movie genre well, with references to cult classics such as Hellraiser and the Exorcist, as well as references to obscure movies that most wouldn't know about such as Rubber, the movie about a tire that goes on a murderous rampage. You could tell he enjoyed inputting his love of this into the story and sharing it among a few of the characters, such as Argento and Lucio, two of the set designers and monster in the haunted house. 

The switching of POVs, didn't interrupt the story-line at all, which I found to be pleasant. There is even a couple of instances when the POV changes and picks up JUST before the last scene ends, so as you get a feel for what was happening from two different perspectives, which I enjoyed a lot. 

The creep factor was definitely there in parts, but some things I felt were just thrown in to add a little bit of shock value. Like the bed of nails that Emery sleeps on. Yes I understand the premise surrounding this character, but I feel like the bed was just thrown in as something extra that's a little screwed up, I think there could have been a better way to include this tidbit where it would have felt more imperative to the story-line and not just a "oh look how creepy this is, she sleeps on a bed of nails" creep factor. I'm also wondering if the sex scene between two of the characters was really needed. I'm not adverse to sex in books, it doesn't bother me, I'm just not sure whether this added anything to the story, yes it made it seem like she was a drug that he needed, but once again, it's pointing to the 'womanly wiles' power over men thing for me. 

I didn't really care much for the characters, however, I must admit that I was rooting for Jeanie in the end, I don't know why, I just really wanted her to make it out. The rest of them, I couldn't really care less about, especially Mike, he came across as a bit of a desperate idiot who was making poor life choices all around. 

It may sound like I didn't enjoy this book very much, that is not true, I did enjoy it. I loved the whole aspect of the witch that's been haunting Bachelor's Grove and walking the turnpike for ages, and the idea that she's trying to resurrect herself. I'm always partial to a witch story, evil or otherwise, I just really felt like this definitely B-Grade horror, as mentioned above. The slasher section of the book, was incredibly descriptive and very gory, it made me think of the Hostel movies and how the amount of gore wasn't exactly imperative to the story-line, and felt more included for a bit of shock factor. I'm not sure why the witch and her familiar had to massacre people in such a gruesome way, it's never alluded to whether this impacts the ritual or not. It might impact it, but there's not really anything to point towards WHY they were so violent. I've always been a fan of the horror genre in general, but for me, everything has to have a point. There has to be a reason for the gratuitous gore, for the sex, for any other number of things we find in this genre, otherwise it just falls short for me. 

If you're into horror, gore, with a splash of supernatural/paranormal thrown in, give it a go, I doubt you'll be disappointed.
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In a crowded haunted house genre “The House by the Cemetery” just does not have enough going on to raise itself from the pack, instead it reeks of familiarity. It may have a gruesome climax with an impressive body count, but it lacks scares, atmosphere, and ultimately fails because everything about it from page one to the final sequence is totally predictable and telegraphed. I do not think the novel had one single twist or major unexpected turn and that’s a significant problem in a supernatural novel. The horror element lacks no ‘drip, drip’ effect and everything was just so clunkily obvious it became tiresome very quickly. Flame Tree Press have impressed me with the quality of their releases thus far, but this cliché-ridden bore-fest falls well short of the high standards they have set themselves.

A down on his luck carpenter, Mike Kostner, gets a job renovating an old house which is supposed to be haunted by a witch. The house is built beside an old cemetery and has been empty for many years with everything going to wrack and ruin. The new lease holder (Leo) does not intend to live in the house, instead he turns it into a themed haunted house, which will open a month before Halloween. Hopefully with bags of cash in the bank, the big closing night will be 31st October itself. Once Mike has fixed all the safety and structural problems in the house then Leo’s team turn all the rooms into themed horror rooms based around famous films and books. We get all the usual stuff, a ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ room, ‘Hellraiser’, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Ringu’ and so on.

Whilst Mike is working alone on the house a young woman appears, Katie, and here lies the first major problem with the book. A five-year-old could figure out that Katie was the witch, it was that predictable and obvious and everything goes down-hill from there. As the main ‘evil’ in the house she was an exceptionally weak character and would struggle to scare a kinder-garden child. After Katie’s arrival, the novel meanders towards opening night, then Halloween and a predictable final girl scenario. Sure, there was a very large body count, but it was too little too late for a novel that took an age for anything to happen and for much of the time I felt I had read this before. 

I usually enjoy picking up on horror references, but everything in this novel was so basic and heavy-handily thrown at the reader it grated. Too many pages were wasted with Mike mooning around after Katie with his hammer, his beer and his sexual frustrations. Even more pages were then squandered with all the paying customers fooling around in the haunted house. This blow by blow account was tedious to read with the occasional paying customer biting the dust. Big deal. 

It was not helped by the fact that all the characters were very one dimensional. Mike is lonely, horny and desperate to have sex with Katie and that’s about it. The guy who builds the themed horror rooms is only known as ‘Argento’ because of his favourite film director, and apart from that we know nothing about him. Likewise, for his friend ‘Lucio’ and no prizes for knowing who he is named after. When all the reader knows about characters is what horror films they dig I just do not think that is enough for the reader to give too hoots about whether they live or die.

A couple of the other characters were fleshed out slightly better, there was Jillie, who was the first to suspect something was wrong and was well aware of the dangers connected with the house. Also, Jeanie who gets hired to work on the monster make-up for the duration of the project and strong-arms her boyfriend Bong to get involved who ultimately works in the ‘Ringu’ room. But apart from these two the novel was riddled with weak characterisation and seemed like it was written on autopilot. 

If you’re after a light-weight and very undemanding read then “The House by the Cemetery” might hold your interest, otherwise look elsewhere for something for a bit more whack, scares or atmosphere.
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I've always said a pat on the back is only a few vertabrae removed from a kick in the ass, but miles ahead in results, so first I want to pat John Everson on the back.
The House by the Cemetery is a thoroughly enjoyable read, quickly paced with great writing, an interesting plot, some obscure references that were a lot of fun, a completely unforgettable climax, and good story resolution.
I tend to rate books on their merit, not on whether I personally liked every aspect or not. It seems fairer to me. In the case of The House by the Cemetery, I'm not a big fan of gore and at about the 75% mark, that's where the book takes you right up to the end. I have nothing against splatterpunk and I'm not going to rail against it like it's the end of times, I just don't like it as much as straight-up horror. Still, even with that prejudice, I was totally immersed and very impressed with the book. When the gore started, I was still impressed--just wanted it to be over.
In splatterpunk, there always seems to be a defining moment.
For instance, remember when Richard Laymon was really on? Before publishers found those eye-bleeding manuscripts and decided they'd make a buck printing them?
You'd be reading along and he'd have you--you'd be hanging on every word, deep into the plot, the characters, the story. Then he'd throw a monkey wrench into the mix and you'd go, "Now, dammit, people don't act that way."
That's what happened to me and The House by the Cemetery. Sure, I saw it coming--most folks will--but when "it" happened, the reaction of the opposing character was a "people don't act that way" moment and it rattled my cage enough to take me right out of the book. Up to that point, the prose and the characters were excellent and I was buying it all. 
But there's a point in the suspension of disbelief where you have to go (and this isn't in the book--it's an example), "She finds out her boyfriend is actually a sewer rat who can shape-shift and the sex is so good that she's okay with that? Oh, bullshit."
And except for that one little ham-handed paragraph that cloyed at me (and that's a reflection on me, not the book), this is a first-rate horror novel; everything else about it is rock solid.
If gore, blood, and guts are your thing, you'll be very pleased. If not, you'll still find it enjoyable.
So that's it.
Pat on the back, little kick in the ass, and another pat on the back.
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Intense, creepy, atmospheric and scary. Everything I love about a book. Lights off and imagination running wild. Fab story and great style of writing.
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Full review forthcoming...........................................................................................................................................................
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3.5/5 Stars.

The House by the Cemetary leads you to believe that this is yet another haunted house story. The creepy cover combined with the bump in the night blurb might make you think that this is a simple haunting. 

It's so much more. 

When Mike is asked to shore up a decrepit old house with a dark history, to make way for a Halloween haunted house attraction, he's a little trepid. He'll be working the house all summer by himself to get it ready in time for the opening. Mike needs the work though and sets himself to the task. When strange events start happening at the house, well, Mike isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. I can't say too much about the storyline without giving pertinent information away, but Mike is a big ol dummy, mkay? 

 I found it somewhat predictable in the way that watchers of horror movies always know what is happening before the characters figure it out. You want to yell into the book at Mike to open his eyes and stop being such an idiot, but of course, he can't hear you and keeps on dancing his merry way to doom.

While the suspense and characterization are all superbly done, I prefer my horror to be more subtle. I'm not a big slasher trope fan and that's where The House by the Cemetery quickly takes you. 

What starts out as a haunted house promptly disintegrates into Hell House. The implied spooks give way to in your face murder and mayhem. With plenty of grotesque, violent and gritty moments, The House by the Cemetary is reminiscent of classic slasher films concluding with an unbelievable and obscene body count.
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I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Initially, this book felt as though it was written as a YA novel and I had selected it by mistake. I am used to horror novels in the twisty, drip-by-drip form of Stephen King and so was not expecting the imagery of the titular House by the Cemetery to be presented in such an obvious way. But details were definitely in force as carpenter Mike starts renovating the reportedly-haunted dwelling in preparation for a Halloween Fright Fest (I could probably repair a porch and mend some rotten drywall from reading this novel alone!), complete with dank, dripping basement, creaky floorboards and secret passageways.

Everson does manage to elicit a shiver, however, for all his ‘clunky’ description. The Bram Stoker award-winner certainly has a way with weaving an essence of fear through his writing, and I was very aware of every noise around me as I read. As the house is finished and the ‘spooks’ gather to begin frightening the very lives out of paying visitors, I was enthralled. It is a horror novel after all. What was going to happen?

From there on, sadly, we descend quickly into gore-fest-movie territory, heavily played on by references to classic and obscure horror films through the decades. I felt it a little rushed and farcical, the classic ‘everyone gets it bar the Final Girl, running for her life’ trope, and stomach-churning LG gruesome to boot. The concept of the ‘historical witch’ haunting the place, who had only died in 1963, seemed odd too - sure, ghosts have to start somewhere but for all the rumours surrounding the house I expected a spectre more ancient.

I enjoyed the novel as a way to pass the time, but it hasn’t convinced me that shock-horror plays out as well in print as on screen.
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The character introduction scene dialogue was written in a way that was confusing.  I had difficulty telling which one was buying the house, and which one had the ex wife. After rereading it three times, I finally figured out Perry is buying the house, and Mike has the ex wife.  Perry still talks to Mike’s ex wife. 

Chapter two introduced me to more problems, such these sentences-
“Plus, Sunday had run wrong...lonely.”  
“But step by step he approached the old house...that sound receded.”

I’m just left confused.  As I am reading a galley copy, this sentences may have changed in the final release.  As I progressed upon the page, missing commas, and strange punctuation jumped out at me from the page, hindering my enjoyment.  

I tried to enjoy this, as the truly haunted, haunted house premise is one that I find genuinely interesting.  I am sad that technicalities prevented me from finishing this one. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
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John Everson has created one of my top ten books of all time. THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is a cauldron filled with devilry and witchery–all my favorite things. It's a love story at its core, but on the surface, it's a blood-curdling tale of utter mayhem and savagery. I loved every minute of this book. 2018 has seen several great books, but this one is a definite must read for all fans of horror. 

John Everson tips his hat to Suspiria and A Nightmare On Elm Street. The author shows his knowledge of horror, but he doesn't fall into the old tropes. He brings something new to the haunted house table. John Everson makes you feel something for each of the characters. I haven't been this invested in a set of characters since reading IT. I connected with all of them in some way. 

Mike Kostner turns the abandoned old house near the abandoned old Bachelor's Grove Cemetery into a haunted house attraction. Two ladies, Katie and Emery, help Mike with the haunted house. They hire set designers (Argento and Lucio) and makeup artists (Jeanie and June). Halloween will never be the same again. It turns out, the old house didn't need any help being haunted. 

The blood will spray and the bodies will hit the floor. The past comes crashing into the present. I've never seen so many different types of horror in one book, but John Everson pulls it off nicely. I felt like I was walking through the haunted house with the characters. I caught myself trying to wipe the blood off my glasses. There's so much blood and guts. I couldn't stop smiling as I turned the pages. 

You don't just read this book, you experience it. The scenes jump off the page. John Everson grabs you by the collar and doesn't let go. There isn't a dull moment in this book. The dialogue is excellent. The descriptions are everything. The setting is superb. I would totally live in that house. John Everson's writing style is great. He reads quick, just the way I like it. THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY would make a great film. I would love to see all the rooms come to life in the haunted house. 

When you read a great horror story, the world fades away and you become part of the story. That's what happened with THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. I had a blast reading this one. If I'm being honest, I want to read it again and I never want to read books twice. I will definitely be reading more from this author. 

I can't say enough about THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. Give this one a go, and let me know what you think. 


5/5 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Whew, what a book. The house by the cemetery by John Everson has everything you want in a scary story. History of a dead witch, things that go bump in the night and lots of rumors. Are they all believable? Mike wants to flip this old house with history. He does not necessarily believe all the rumors. It is close to Halloween and just in time for a haunted house. Things do not go so well and there are a lot of very chilling things that happen in this house. The author knows how to scare you by building up the suspense and obviously knows about spirits. I was really scared for Mike. This is a fast read with believable text and characters. I would definitely recommend this to others.

Thank you to. Netgalley as well as the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

5 stars ⭐️ out of 5
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Review: THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY by John Everson

Outstanding. I can seldom resist the Feckless Hero, which is certainly what we have here in Protagonist Mike, a young carpenter in Cook County, Illinois. I liked Mike (to a point), but he and a whole lot of others would have benefited if he had just--matured. Developed personal integrity. Got a life. {Sigh} Guess my opinion of him didn't rank as high as I thought.

Nevertheless, the story is outstanding. Quite extreme, but given the context of the plot, not over the top. I particularly admired author John Everson' s gift with characterization, which I fondly remember from his novel FAMILY TREE. He delineates his characters quite fully but subtly, without telegraphing in advance, but letting readers' realization gradually unfold. This was a one-session reading for me, as I was so absorbed in both plot and characters. I adored the setting, too, and Mr. Everson delivers suspense and revelation in perfect doses for a tale of haunted locales and haunted character.
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Review Copy

At first glance you might think that THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is just another haunted house book released in time for Halloween. But this is not as simple as you might think. Check out the author before you laugh this off as a lightweight read. John Everson knows how to build the scares.

Yes, it's a very fun and very fast read. It has all the elements of a great Halloween story. It talks of horror movies and isnabout the building of a Halloween haunted house. Very fun stuff. The last twenty percent of the book is pure hell and I loved every second. 

Grab this one!
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Thankyou to NetGalley,  Flame Tree Press and John Everson for the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of The House By The Cemetery.  
Firstly,  probably not a book for the faint-hearted.  I thought it was a spine-tingling page turner that kept me up until I finished the whole book.  The storyline was well thought out and keeps you intrigued from start to finish. 
A good read for fans of the genre
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