Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When the Rolfe family finds a beach house for the summer for only $900, it seems too good to be true. And it is, for the house seems to be exerting its influence on Marian, Ben, and their son David. Will the Rolfe family head back to Brooklyn before it's too late?
Chalk another one up to Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction. This one caught my eye when I was perusing that sacred text one day and I eventually took the plunge.
Burnt Offerings is a slow-burn haunted house store, emphasis on the slow. The tortoise-like pace was a little frustrating for awhile. Also, it's very much rooted in the 1970s, from Marion being a mostly compliant house wife to some rapey moments from Ben, which seems to be a lot more commonplace in 70s fiction than it should be. It's one of Stephen King's inspirations for The Shining, and it shows. Most of the gripes I had with The Shining are here as well.
Now that I have my gripes out of the way early, I wound up enjoying the book once the pace picked up. The creepy atmosphere is very well done, starting with subtle bits of weirdness and eventually going full tilt.
Would you take a tray of food to an unseen ancient woman once a day to live in your dream house for a couple months? How far would you go for your dreams? These are the questions posed by Burnt Offerings. "If something looks too good to be true, it probably is" is probably the core message. I thought I knew which of the Rolfe's would go off the rails first but I was wrong.
The last 25% was pretty fantastic. If the rest of the book had been up to that standard, it would have been an easy four stars. As it stands, it had to work pretty hard to earn three from me. As always, your mileage may vary. If The Shining was to your liking, you might like this more than I did.
View all my reviews