I was really surprised when I started reading this book and realized it wasn’t a graphic novel (don’t judge, I read it as an ebook!). I was pleasantly surprised later when I realized there are still snippets of a comic within the story. Despite this, I still wasn’t thrilled with the book as a whole.
Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn’t seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it’s clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn’t budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive…
As I mentioned above, I thought this was a graphic novel based off the cover. I checked it out as an ebook so I couldn’t tell until I flipped to page one that, though it has snippets of a graphic novel, it’s mostly told in prose.
That being said, the graphic novel in the book is definitely something I’d read! I really liked how the mystery surrounding this discovered manuscript developed. The plot twist at the end regarding this book wasn’t something I saw coming and made for a great ending to the book.
Although I really enjoyed that aspect of this book, I didn’t really care for much else. I don’t know if it’s because I just wasn’t expecting it, but the emphasis on poverty seemed kind of forced. One minute we are at the very haunted house and the next we’re reading pages of the characters bickering over money. I see why this was brought into the book with the setting and the characters’ backgrounds, but the way it was written into the story felt forced and awkward at times.
The ghost aspect definitely gave me some chills, but the Big Scene at the end was honestly kind of confusing. The little ghostly things before that- humming, perfume, footprints, accidents, voices- made for an entertaining ghost story.
The other conflicts in this book, mainly Denise’s feeling about moving and the consequences of that, weren’t emphasized enough for me to care. She was a decent character, but anything non-paranormal about her life didn’t interest me. The secondary characters were similar: decent in theory but I didn’t know enough about them to really care. I liked Denise’s step-dad just fine but didn’t really like her mom, who seemed too all over the place to pin down.
If I’m being honest, this book didn’t meet my expectations. I liked only a couple aspects of the story and found myself wanting to skim through all unrelated pieces. I definitely appreciate the way the author showed how the Storm impacted everything in New Orleans; however, that and the paranormal pieces of the book didn’t totally blend together. The emphasis on gentrification and the social dynamics of the story felt at odds with the book’s basic concept of ghosts.
With boring characters, a slow plot, and some awkwardly-fitted pieces, this book didn’t really do it for me. The ghostly aspects were the best part of this book but, unfortunately, weren’t enough to make me fall for the book.
Have you read The Agony House? What are your thoughts?