25. House of Windows – John Langan
To say I did not like this book would be a vast understatement. I thought the premise sounded good – essentially a lit professor being driven to some unknown madnessy sounding fate by a dark unexplainable force, I was an English major after all, I know what pompousness looks like and sometimes I definitely wanted to see it driven to madness. But…not like this. I can honestly say that the sole reason I finished reading this is because I started it while doing hospice care for Finny and he was having a lot of bad days and I knew I wasn’t able to read anything that might actually be fun or engaging. Finny was still very much alive when I finished it and I was very much annoyed.
The framing device for the whole story is that it’s being told to a friend of the “family” – which in this case means friend of the professor who disappeared and his much, much younger wife – by the young wife. Who is not only unlikable, but unbelievable. She consistently insults the wife the professor had when she, as his student, started sleeping with him. Why? The wife never literally does anything in the story, she’s always acting off page, so it’s never proven that she’s actually awful and I mean, no one is sweet and charming during a divorce caused by your husband’s inability to not sleep with his student. The insults that the narrator gives the wife are all rude and mostly looks-based. It’s like the dream of a guy that wants to justify his terrible behavior. If she really legitimately wanted that relationship and didn’t solely want to break up a marriage so she could insult the ex-wife, why does she care about what his ex-wife looks like? He’s your douchebag now. And it’s very different when the child in a marriage is an adult and not someone younger who could be used as a pawn in a custody battle, so I really didn’t find the insults believable.
Also, said adult child is then cursed by his father, who then spends a lot of time in their weird-possibly madness inducing house trying to reconnect with the ghost of his adult son after he dies in Afghanistan. This curse thing is important and also really boring. I mean, there are a lot of different ways to disown a child that happen every damn day. It’s only because of the professor dude’s massive concept of self-importance that he and his much younger wife make it a thing and a deal with an entity and yell about it a lot in their weird house.
The house being fake-alive with the son’s ghost is…also really boring. Nothing about this haunting is innovative or made me want anything other than for the story to be over forever, never to be seen again. The haunting also reminded me of terrible music videos. Beavis and Butthead would have many insights about the visuals, I am sure of it. They might also have had some insights about the dipshit version of a research scene, where the younger wife explains how web pages open and various design choices that were made, I think the crazy artist’s site used Geocities.