Genre: Adult, Mystery, Paranormal
Publication date: September 23rd 2014
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
I didn’t love this, but it’s a very unique – I’d even say peculiar – story with some candid personalities and buried secrets. And of course, Lauren’s writing makes the storyline so intriguing that it compels you to read even if it’s not blowing your mind. This review will be short, because the whole of this (also short) book is one haunting secret after another being unearthed into a story full of tragedy.
Brought together in this house by the death and upcoming burial of a husband and father, this story encircles the lives of half a dozen people who make up our narrators of this novel. While we learn the ins and outs of what makes these people who they are, we also learn that, ultimately, this is the ghosts’ tale. Even though this involves ghosts and a haunted house, it’s far from being a horror novel. It’s a family drama full of secrets and blame, of death and broken lives. It’s undoubtedly very well written, constructed with many layers and strings that tie everything together.
With so many POVs, though, comes along a difficulty to fully connect with these characters. I very much enjoyed both Alice and Susan – the resident ghosts; their bickering is a lot of fun, and you just know they’ve got a dark secret that’s keeping them there. For some reason, though, I kept confusing their backstories and forgetting which history belonged to which ghost. Maybe it’s my lack of attention, or maybe the voices were not distinct enough; I think it’s a little bit of both. Aside from those two, and maybe Trenton with his suicidal thoughts, I found myself getting bored with the other characters. In turn, I never grew emotionally attached to this story, which does have a lot of heartbreak and sadness meant to hit you right in the heart. As everyone’s lives are painted with a dark brush, crafting them into somber, self-loathing characters, it’s natural to want to keep at arm’s length like I did. And in doing so, I was left wanting more from it, never being completely enthralled until maybe the last 5 chapters or so when the ghosts finally face their demons.
The story that Lauren paints is not joyful and happy, it gets sadder and sadder with every thread that unravels. Until finally, you’re left with a broken heart and a disturbing thought that life, sometimes, just truly sucks. The writing itself is not the issue at all – it’s beautifully written with a poetic sort of feel – I simply did not fall into the emotional depths that this tale was obviously striving for.
“Everything comes up in the end”