Maynard’s House: Novel Review

Hello everyone and welcome to the start of another week. Let’s jump right into the review!

The Author

Herman Raucher started writing one hour dramas for shows like Studio One, Goodyear Playhouse, and The Alcoa Hour. Besides writing for TV, Raucher also wrote four plays, six novels, and seven films. His novels include the bestselling Summer of ’42, as well as the book I’ll be reviewing today, Maynard’s House.

During his career, he has been the recipient of an Academy Award Nomiation for Best Original Screenplay, a similar nomination from The Writers Guild of America, and a Best Original Screenplay award from The Writers Guild of Great Britain as well.

The Novel

Maynard’s House is about a young man fresh out of the Vietnam War, Austin Fletcher, who is willed a cabin in the wilderness of northern Maine by a fellow soldier who died during the war. He arrives in the dead of winter, when the snows are the deepest and the wind howls through skeletal trees.

He learns that the cabin was the site of a witch burning in the 1690s and has a reputation for being haunted, with a history of owners abandoning the property soon after occupying it — with the exception of his friend, Maynard. The longer Austin stays at the cabin, the more influence a supernatural force seems to have on him and the surrounding land. Just as he makes up his mind to leave, a blizzard hits, and things get really… chilling.

The Review

An unsettling experience. [C]onfounding, touching, and well-written.

New York Times Book Review

This spine-tingling haunted house story has a delightful mix of chills, thrills, and wicked humour. It starts off slowly, creepy incidents pile up like the snow around the cabin, driving the protagonist to question his sanity. Since he also suffers from the echoes of horror from the Vietnam War, he proves to be an unreliable narrator prone to misconceptions and waking dreams, leading the reader to wonder what really is real and what is in his mind.

The heavy atmosphere that laces through the novel creates a claustrophobic environment that traps both the reader and the protagonist in an icy hell. The house itself is another character, living, breathing, with its own desires and will. The novel implies the house chooses who may remain safely within its walls and who cannot. And if the house loves you? It may be another type of hell.

Overall, a very gripping novel that won’t let go once it has its cold dead hands on you. And because it is set in the winter, it is an excellent novel to read right now in the dead heat of summer. If the vivid imagery of snowy wastelands won’t cool you off, the chills will!

8/10

x PLM

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