Hello, hello reader!
I’ve kept the majority of this review spoiler-free, anything spoiler related will be beneath my patented spoiler line!
Tananarive Due is an award-winning author responsible for Ghost Summer: Stories, My Soul to Keep, and The Good House. Due is also an executive producer on Shudder’s documentary, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, and has co-written an episode of “The Twilight Zone” with her husband. She also co-wrote a novel called Freedom in the Family: a Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights with her late mother, who had been a civil rights activist.
Due is considered a leading voice in black speculative fiction for the past 20 years and has won an American Book Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a British Fantasy Award, and her writing has been included in best-of-the-year anthologies.
Working to rebuild her law practice after her son commits suicide, Angela Toussaint journeys to the family home where the suicide took place, hoping for answers, and discovers an invisible, evil force that is driving locals to acts of violence.–The Good House Goodreads page
Published in 2004, The Good House starts with a bang when Angela Toussaint’s son kills himself during a Fourth of July celebration at Angela’s grandmother’s house — which is called The Good House by locals. Haunted by heartbreak, she buries herself in therapy and work for two years, until she is drawn back to the Good House once more. Convinced that something sinister was behind her son’s death, Angela dives into the unfinished battle between a nameless evil and her grandmother, a beloved and powerful priestess.
The Good House has an excellent mix of horror and heartbreak, the supernatural and the human. As I stated in my description of the book, the story starts off with a bang (that sounds just like a gunshot). From there, the suspense builds as we watch Angela, her disturbing dreams, and her attempt to move on with her life.
Then she receives a call about selling the Good House and she is convinced to go back to see it one last time for closure. Of course, none of it goes to plan as the evil spirit that once haunted her grandmother is now after her, the last of the Toussaints.
I loved the slow reveal of the past events and actions that led up to the present day, the journal entries that allow glimpses into the grandmother’s life, and the claustrophobic setting of a small town. The influence of the spirit starts insidious and then grows into something way more powerful and terrifying. I think you’d be surprised at the death count in this novel!
I got pretty invested in the story, though sometimes I found Angela a little annoying, just because she seemed so passive at times, when I would have liked her to have been assertive. And the ending rather disappointed me. I go into in more detail in the spoiler section, but simply put, I felt like the ending erased all the growth the characters had.
Unfortunately, overall the ending spoiled the enjoyment I got from the book.
I wanted to elaborate on why the ending disappointed me so much. In the final confrontation with the evil spirit, Angela lets her grandmother possess her (which disappointed me because it was just another way Angela was passive to the forces around her and couldn’t resolve it herself) and her grandmother defeats the evil spirit. Then, because the good spirits are so pleased with her, Angela gets to make one wish.
And she jumps back in time, helping her son defeat the evil spirit and thus erasing everything that had happened throughout the whole book.
Part of the whole book’s message was Angela finding herself, discovering the history of her family and grandmother, and growing as a person. That whole journey is now moot. At one point during reading The Good House, I wondered at Due’s disregard at slaughtering every single character and a part of me worried that somehow Angela would gain some kind of power and raise all the dead back. I guess I had been partially right. Unfortunately, this made for a rather disappointing end to the book.