Review of How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

HowToSellA Haunted house

Welcome to the most modern book review on this list to date.  Published in January 2023, I pre-ordered this book many months before it was available. Silly me, I thought I could just click and read. “No Mr Cheely”, the Amazon Goddesses were telling me, “The hour has not yet come.”

I finished it sometime in March I believe. Since I had to wait to read it, then certainly it’s understandable that I waited before I wrote about it. Likewise, surely it’s excusable that I am making my readers wait for this review.  (yeah yeah, “Don’t call me Shirley, I get it.)

For the several months I waited, I wondered about this book.  I had seen the advertisements. I read the hype. But I don’t seem to recall receiving any clues as to just what in the heck this book was all about.

When confronted with a title like “How to Sell a Haunted House,” the human brain conjures several guesses as to the subject.. At least mine did. I think it’s a human brain that I have lodged somewhere in my cranium. At least I hope so anyway.  Here are a couple of speculations that ugly looking thing in my head had created. 

A book like this could be intended as a serious instructional manual. By this I mean it might be a non-fictional, real estate advice book targeting sellers that just aren’t able to fully cleanse their house before going on the market. Old fashioned elbow grease might be just the thing to scrub the walls, but no amount of work or chemical solution is able to rid the house of the ghostly remains of dear Aunt Ella and Uncle Seymour. Therefore, this book was written to teach readers how to list a haunted house, what to reveal to prospective customers and what not to disclose. It answers that aged-old question, “Are there any legal issues when selling a haunted house?”

Or, this book is a comedic fictional misadventure of some hopeful couple trying to sell while leaving their dear old bat of a mother-in-law behind. “Mrs. Realtor, if you are having an open house on the last Saturday of the month, please oh please do not show prospective buyers the wine cellar!  Dear old mom would get her social security check around that time, the amount was never enough, and she would drink in despair in the cellar. Being dead hasn’t stopped this ritual. She’ll throw empty bottles at anyone who enters.”  Or, “Don’t show them the upstairs bathroom. Mom is a prankster and she likes to jump up out of the toilet and say “Boo!”

As it turns out, Hendrix’s book does not resemble the two scenarios I presented to you. Nor is it about several other half-concocted synopses I had floating around in my head. It’s about creepy dolls that watch the living. It’s about sinister puppets that possess the living. It’s about taxidermied squirrels that break free from their frozen states to join the living.It’s also about imaginary creatures escaping from the prison of someone’s imagination and breaking into reality.

I didn’t see any of this coming. Well, actually I did. Not long before the publishing date, more of the plot was revealed and dolls were mentioned.  But in the beginning, I wouldn’t have guessed. I knew nothing. NOTHING!

I won’t give too much away about the plot. An estranged brother and sister are forced to reunite after the sudden, tragic death of their parents. They must put aside past differences to settle important, financial matters. To sell their parents house or not to sell, that is the question. This dilemma proves challenging as brother and sister can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on anything. It doesn’t help matters any that certain pieces of their mother’s doll and puppet collection start coming to life to screw with the living. 

Possessed dolls and puppets. That’s all scary and freaky and stuff, but can such abnormal antics meet the criteria for what makes up a haunted house story. I mean, the movie Child’s Play features a doll named “Chuckie” that likes to kill people. He does so, I believe, in a house. Or was it an apartment?  Who cares, the point is this question: “s Child’s Play a haunted house movie? No it is not. Neither would be the third story in Karen Black’s The Trilogy of Terror, a made for TV movie where an African fetish doll chases poor Karen Black around her apartment while trying to knife her to death.

Ahh, but How to Sell a Haunted House can be considered a haunted house novel. First of all, the author says it is in the title of his book. That helps the cause. How can the author be wrong?

Second, in true gothic fashion, there are family secrets and an unveiling mystery to lead the reader along. Third, there are rooms, an attic and garage, described in detail. Something is hidden in the yard. These places are destined to host disturbing situations. Finally, for those bent on the need for a haunted house story to have a ghost, this book accommodates, but maybe not in a way the reader expects. 

How to Sell a Haunted House is an intriguing book with several quirky characters to add flavor to the story. Kudos to author Gary Hendrix!  This is the second time I’m reviewing a book by this author. The other review was about his book Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction. 

I found him on Facebook and sent a friend request. But he must have been so overwhelmed at receiving such a request from me, that he is still stewing over it, fearful of making this connection. He needs time to emotionally prepare for this milestone.  I understand, Mr. Hendrix.  Take your time and I’ll continue to see you in the books!

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