Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Reviews: The House Next Door
Publish October 25, 2017
Joel A. Sutherland, author of the popular Haunted Canada series, and a Bram Stoker Award-nominee, spins another spine-tingling tale in The House Next Door. After moving to a small town, 10 year-old Matt and his sister Sophie discover the haunted history of the rickety farmhouse next door. Briar Patch Farm looks abandoned, but peculiar sightings of a horse piques the siblings’ curiosity. When the kids investigate, they are plunged into a suspenseful, decades-old murder mystery replete with a sinister, pitchfork-wielding apparition, gory hallucinations and restless spirits bent on revenge.
Sutherland knows how to write nightmare-inducing stories that grab readers’ attention. Chilling, atmospheric details abound, like a warbling-voiced doll with eyes that “rolled around in their sockets [as] her tiny mouth opened and closed out of time with her words” , and a “small, bony and pale white” hand that reaches out from a bedroom closet. The classic horror tropes are well represented, from eccentric, reclusive elderly neighbours, to bodies buried in the basement. The tautly written, fast-moving plot also has plenty of spooky twists and unexpected surprises that create a creeping sense of dread. Make sure you read The House Next Door with all the lights turned on.