HOUSE OF WINDOWS
by John Langan
A book review by weird speculative fiction author Ted Fauster
I’m a sucker for a good haunted house story.
HOUSE OF WINDOWS delivers.
Here’s the thing: if you’re looking for a quick, jump-scare read then you can pass on this one. The language in this book is slow and syrupy, like sipping an artisanal whiskey cocktail before a lazily rolling Victorian fireplace, Labrador on the rug, snow falling gently outside the windowpane and everything. This is a book best enjoyed in sessions, which is exactly how I digested it.
The writing has a pleasingly potent literary style. It is intentionally measured but not slow. Langan quite effectively takes on the voice of widow Veronica Croydon, whose marriage to a lauded professor forty years her senior was in itself something of a scandal. When her husband goes missing following the death of his son, Veronica is immediately suspected.
We learn all of this in a most unique way. Veronica bumps into another English professor at a dinner party who also happens to be a horror novelist. Unable to evade a discussion, he becomes the unexpected co-narrator of a ghost story told by a haunted widow through the filter of an unassuming yet transfixed author. And so the tale begins.
HOUSE OF WINDOWS drips with drama and intrigue, both of which build so exquisitely slowly it is at times almost unbearable. But that’s what a good writer does: leaves you wanting more. It becomes clear very early on that we’re not going to get spooked just yet, because Langan is the variety of writer who believes in the haunted landscape of the human spirit, centering it front-stage for us to examine in minute detail, before delivering the goods. This, in my humble opinion, is what makes all the subsequent scares so goddamn satisfying!
To read this book is to understand the ghosts that can haunt not only one relationship but several generations. It is a study of the degeneration of family, of things best unstated, of the ineptitude of the human mind to truly comprehend the damage one human being can do to another until it is far too late.
You’ll get your scares. Just be prepared to sit down by the fire and hear the whole story first.