The debut novel from Christopher Ransom, The Birthing House, is quite a blend of tension, suspense, horror, and mystery. But mostly horror. For a debut novel, it is quite good but, at times, difficult to follow.
Conrad Harrison heads out of Chicago, travelling the wrong direction, and finds himself in Black Earth, Wisconsin. It is there that he finds a stately old home that he absolutely must buy. Without talking to his wife, he impulsively purchases the house and then informs her of the purchase. The house feels right, as it was once a "birthing house," where women would come from around the area to have their babies. He sees this as a way to have a new beginning. Conrad proceeds to move his wife and two dogs from California to Wisconsin. In addition to dealing with the change in weather, recreational and entertainment opportunities, and poor cell service, Conrad and Jo are trying to mend their relationship and in his mind, this new house, this birthing house, will provide the basis for a new beginning for the couple. That is made more difficult when Jo accepts an eight week job in Detroit. Left alone, Conrad discovers that the old house has some secrets - dark, terrible secrets. During his time alone in his new home, Conrad comes to find that The Birthing House wants something from him.
This is a very good debut novel from Ransom. He builds the suspense like a seasoned author; Conrad keeps hearing a newborn's cries, he sees shadowy figures in the house and in the yard, and notices his wife in a photo album that came with the house. This is a seriously creepy novel. Further, Ransom has created some very good characters, and provides enough history for each that their motivations are plausible. The novel moves quickly, drawing you into Conrad's world, which seems to be bordering on madness. The early chapters are exceptional, however the final few left me puzzled. While the novel seemed to be moving toward a logical and satisfying conclusion, it left with me feeling as though I missed something. Rereading the final chapters did not help, Ransom seems to have purposely created a sleight of hand as I was left wondering how the we came to that ending. It did not appear to make much sense. Even with that, you can see that Ransom is an author that deserves your attention and one that has a lot of potential.
The Birthing House starts really well. After the first few chapters, I was really into the whole story and thinking to myself how great it will be to read something that's a bit different from a new and exciting author. The first half of the book is fairly good. We learn a lot about the main character, and a little more about the house. However, it seems the second part of the book just fizzled. The ending was rushed, and like many others, the I have only my imagination as to what happened at the … more
Did you ever meet anyone intent on his/her own destruction? Where the perusal of pleasurable things comes secondary to the desire to recreate moments in the past that caused great pain? Perhaps this obsession to look at the dark side originates from a need to control a situation that was not mastered in the past and so the participant relives it over and over again in his/her mind with the intent to change the outcome--in Freudian terms, `morbido' (the drive towards death) usurps and conquers `libido' … more
A little hokey for me but it was well written and I did enjoy the history about the Birthing House itself. I'm not usually into ghost stories, but I was creeped out quite a bit with this one. The reason for three stars however is I felt a lot of things were left unresolved, and I hate that feeling. I like to end a book feeling complete, having all the pieces fully come together for me. And while the writer did attempt to do just that, I feel he fell short. I also though some parts were just really … more
Don't get me wrong; I enjoy books of terror and horror, having grown up on that type of literature. I was quite excited when I read about this book, since it sounded really interesting, but I was very disappointed. Perhaps it was because the author telegraphs the ending (sort of) in the first sentence, which really destroyed any suspense I had. Additionally, I really just couldn't get interested in a plot that never seemed to be able to move forward. The author appeared more … more
It never ceases to amaze me how many doors have opened up for me since I started reviewing the books I read. Publishers now send me free books to read and review. Authors contact me. Kind folks at Lunch … more
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