Friday, December 11, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan

In the Preface of Audrey's Door, Sarah Langan acknowledges that "Modern haunted house stories build on a rich tradition." And that she was inspired by The Haunting of Hill House, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant. Her novel pays homage to these haunted house stories.

After Audrey Lucas breaks up with her fiance, Saraub Ramesh, she needs to find a new place to live in Manhattan, but can't seem to find one she can afford. Then she comes across The Breviary, a gorgeous building with a dark history and cheap rent. Being an architect, Audrey jumps at the chance to live in a beautifully designed building, despite its sinister past. But once she moves in she suffers horrible nightmares, which include sleepwalking. And not just sleepwalking...building a door while sleeping....

The prose is amazing, with descriptions of The Breviary that make you feel like you are living there yourself. And Langan has written two of the most realistically flawed characters I have ever read with Audrey and Saraub. Although Audrey has a trailer trash background with a bipolar mother and has OCD herself, she has made something of herself and is well on her way to becoming a respected architect. Saraub is Indian and his mother doesn't approve of his and Audrey's relationship, but he wants to be with her despite this fact. Definitely some of the most interesting characters I've encountered lately.

The pace is fairly slow, with not much happening until halfway through the book, but it was still engrossing because of the characters and chilling atmosphere.

The plot isn't anything new - as I mentioned earlier it's an homage to several other haunted house novels - but Langan adds a few original twists. I was incredibly creeped out by the crazy other tenants living in the building.

The one aspect of the book I didn't like was Audrey's nightmares. I realize that her nightmares added to the creepy atmosphere, but I dislike dream sequences because they add nothing to the story. When someone wakes from a nightmare, nothing happens except for being mildly creeped out. And there are a lot of long, vividly described nightmares in the novel. I wish Langan focused more on Audrey's crazy neighbours instead.

Audrey's Door is an absorbing read, but may not be your thing if you value a fast-pace and gore over atmosphere, character development and descriptive writing in your horror novels.

Rating: 4/5

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