In an alternate reality where ghosts are as commonplace as the weather, the most terrifying thing imaginable is a house not being haunted.
Donna Fitzpatrick runs a surrogacy agency, where ghosts can briefly possess volunteers in order to enjoy carnal pleasures. She’s also working herself into an early grave. But that’s no big deal because death is no worse than puberty. That’s particularly evident in Donna’s twin, Kyle, a self-absorbed roustabout who spends most of his time high on sage. Kyle’s been in arrested development since his motorcycle accident fifteen years ago.
When Donna has a panic attack, Kyle insists she take a vacation at an abandoned mansion. There’s just one small problem: there isn’t a single ghost in Jackson Manor. And while an unhaunted house seems no worse than an oddity at first, soon ghosts go missing, natural disasters consume entire cities, and every afterlife on earth is threatened by the terrible secret behind . . .
THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE.
Title: The Perfectly Fine House | Author: Stephen Kozeniewski & Wile E. Young | Publisher: Grindhouse Press | Pub Date: 03/16/2020 | Pages: 232 | ISBN13: 978-1941918630 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred Review
The Perfectly Fine House Review
2020 is the year that Grindhouse Press continues to surprise. I’ve been a fan of their work for a few years now. I won’t sit here and tell you that I’ve read all of their books (or even loved all the ones I read), but they are always interesting. To this day, whenever a new Grindhouse Press book comes out, I always take a close look at it and read the sample. No other small press has that same level of dedication from me. They are a great small press and have published some wonderful books. Some time back, Grindhouse started being run by CV Hunt. During her tenure, there seems to be a broadening of styles that Grindhouse publishes, allowing for a more expansive definition of what constitutes horror fiction. Frankly, I love this new direction.
The Perfectly Fine House is a co-written novel. I don’t know what method(s) Stephen Kozeniewski & Wile E. Young employed but the finished product is smooth and their two styles seem to have meshed well together. I’ve read Stephen Kozeniewski before but this was my first Wile E. Young book. I just started reading The Magpie Coffin though so there is more Young in my future.
I think it’s important to talk a little about what genres The Perfectly Fine House are. It is more of a secondary world fantasy than a horror novel. There are elements of horror, and the initial premise, a kind of inverted haunted house story, is rooted in the horror genre, but it isn’t squarely a horror novel.
In the world of The Perfectly Fine House, the dead don’t “die” and they don’t go away. This is a world where ghosts are ever present and co-exist with the living. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the exploration of the ideas and mechanics of this world. This is a world where mourning of the dead doesn’t take the same shape as ours because loved ones are still present after death. Multi-generational families are still intact and the youngest children of a family have strong bonds with older generations that died a long time ago. Institutional memory is a living organism as ghosts from previous ages exist alongside ghosts that died a year ago.
This is a fertile world where any number of stories are possible. There are throwaway lines that deserve further exploration, though I’m glad Stephen Kozeniewski & Wile E. Young resisted the urge and left the reader’s imagination wander. Here we get an idea that is firmly rooted in the rules of this world but also suggest the cosmic horror of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones and maybe even the old gods of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire:
“At college Donna had once taken a course on nameless ghosts. There were a few dark, ancient beings who had survived millennia haunting Mesopotamia, the African grasslands, and other places where mankind had its deepest roots. Some had names impossible to pronounce or even guess at this late date and others pre-dated the idea of names or maybe even language itself, her professor had theorized. They were monsters, a menace to their haunting grounds.”
Given how The Perfectly Fine House ends, did Stephen Kozeniewski & Wile E. Young try to sneak in a kind of origin story for The Old Ones in our world? If so, it’s an interesting notion that Lovecraft’s Old Ones would be rooted in Africa. Just a stray thought really and maybe a bit of an overreach, but I only use it as an example to show the depth of the bench.
Primarily, The Perfectly Fine House is about Donna and her dead brother Kyle. A strange house has appeared that doesn’t have any ghostly presence at all. And in a world rife with ghosts, that is strange indeed. A house with no supernatural activity is a spectre that hangs over the entire world of these characters and when the space that the house occupies starts to expand, strange things happen that could have a dire effect for everyone.
The Perfectly Fine House is a fun read, a wild ride, and an exciting story. You’ll love the characters and the world they inhabit.
You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads. (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.
Brian Lindenmuth is the former non-fiction editor of Spinetingler Magazine and the former editor of Snubnose Press. He likes both kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. He blogs about subtitled TV shows and movies at One Inch Tall Movies