Book Review: The House of Azareal by Erik Dreistadt
Christopher is so grateful for his twins that seem a true miracle after he and his wife, Annamarie, had trouble conceiving. He can hardly believe it’s their 8th birthday already, and he won’t let anything spoil the celebration, not even an odd nightmare about being eaten by hellhounds he had the night before. But his children wander off into the woods after the party. When Christopher and Annamarie find them, they’ve stumbled upon an abandoned house. The children convince them to explore it. But the house quickly turns into a living nightmare. A nightmare designed and run by Azareal.
This is my second read of the twelve review copies I accepted for review here this year (see the complete list). I was looking for a shorter read after my previous two chunksters, and this short, fast-paced horror seemed like the perfect fit for my mood. The book puts a fresh twist on both haunted houses and trouble conceiving horror plots, although the writing style and dialogue struggle to support the excellent plot.
The story at first appears to be a straight-forward haunted/evil house plot. Right away, I liked that Azareal’s house isn’t the one the family lives in or one the family has just moved to. Instead, it is a house found in the woods, akin to Hansel and Gretel. That’s a trope I enjoy, and I liked seeing it used in the plot. Having the parents go into the house with the children was the first of several twists on tropes in the plot that made the book so engaging. From the point the family enters the house onward, the plot continues to twist and turn unexpectedly, yet believably. Gradually it becomes apparent that this is more than a haunted house book, it includes the occult, as well as a trouble conceiving plot. The fact that the results of using the occult to aid in conceiving doesn’t have consequences for eight years is a nice twist. Most books show consequences either during the pregnancy or immediately after the baby is born. The inclusion of new twists on both of these horror plots in one book makes the book fast-paced and engaging. It is a quick read that will propel you forward to see how it ends.
Unfortunately, the writing style doesn’t quite live up the high quality of the plot. Some of the dialogue feels forced and awkward. Similarly, while some scenes are set well, others are written in an awkward manner with focus on minute details that are irrelevant to the plot or the setting and not enough focus on other details that are. The writing style is good enough that it doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of the book, but it does knock it down a couple stars. The book is mostly well edited with the exception of one grammar mistake made quite a few times. Either using its for it’s or vice versa. Since it’s the same mistake made repeatedly, it’s easy enough to gloss over when reading it. However, I would advise for future books that the author keep an eye out for this particular issue during the editing process, especially since the rest of the grammar and spelling is so well-edited.
Overall, this is a fast-paced read that combines two horror plots into one book and puts unique twists on both. The writing style isn’t quite as good as the plot, but it’s still an enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to future works by the author. Recommended to horror fans looking for a quick, unique read.
3 out of 5 stars
Source: kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review