The September House
Berkley (September 5, 2023)
Reviewed by Carson Buckingham
This debut novel by Carissa Orlando is an interesting take on a haunted house. The homeowners, a couple who despaired of ever finding their dream home, came across this gorgeous Victorian and snapped it up for a ridiculously low price. Interestingly, the couple wasn’t the least bit curious as to why it was practically being given away—they just knew they wanted it and ignored anything the real estate agent had to say about it. The real estate agent was relieved, to say the least.
Though it is haunted all year, September is when the house is at its worst and the hauntings become both obvious and dangerous. The husband, Hal, has a hard time dealing with it. The wife, Margaret, on the other hand, figures out what the ‘rules’ are—for example, there’s one spirit whose personal space you’d better not violate, or painful retaliatory action is the immediate result. Margaret follows the ‘rules’ and deals with the paranormal activity by either ignoring it, or just going with the flow. She copes. It works for her.
After all, it is her house, she loves the place, and has no intention of ever leaving it. ‘Everything is survivable’ was Margaret’s mantra.
At one point, Hal can’t take it anymore and leaves, which brings their somewhat estranged daughter, Katherine, back home to search for him, setting off a huge chain of twisting and turning events that I won’t tell you about.
What’s really fascinating about this book is that, though Margaret clearly is in a dangerous situation and either needs effective help or to get away from the house completely, rather than regarding her as insane to stay, the reader irrationally comes around to her point of view and begins to deem those who try to interfere for her safety as the bad guys!
This is deft writing at its very best. I haven’t read such a great debut novel in a long, long time and I can’t wait to read what Ms. Orlando writes next.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy—you’ll be glad you did.
5 out of 5 stars