Posted on December 9, 2009 by Flames
Available at Amazon.com
Also available at DrivethruHorror.com
No Door, No Windows by Joe Schreiber is, at its heart, a haunted house story; although it might be more accurate to say it is a haunted character story.
The novel is filled with characters who cannot escape their pasts, or their present, which means that their futures may be in jeopardy. Schreiber’s characters are haunted by guilt, regret, and emotional inertia as much as they are by supernatural forces. Schreiber wields both realistic and otherworldly horrors with deft and subtlety in this suspenseful novel.
The plot is centered on Scott Mast, a professional greeting-card writer living in Seattle who is forced to return to his native small-town in New Hampshire for his father’s funeral. The visit means he must stay with his single-father brother Owen and his 5-year-old son Henry. Owen’s drinking problem, coupled with their father’s death, brings out the dysfunction that has plagued the brothers since their mother passed away in a theater fire ten years earlier.
While going through his father’s items, Scott discovers his father’s unfinished novel called “The Black Wing” which is about Round House, a house that has no angled architecture; all the edges are smooth and rounded. While visiting Sonia, an old girlfriend (another regret) Scott discovers that Round House actually exists. At Sonia’s urging, Scott rents Round House with the goal of completing the manuscript and getting in published.
Scott soon discovers that there is a door in Round House that leads into an impossible long and dark hallway that has no doors or windows, yet there is a presence felt every time the door is opened. While reading the manuscript, Scott discovers there may be a blurry line between fiction and reality, as long-dead spirits begin to walk once more inside and outside of Round House. Or is Scott still just upset about his father’s death and is imagining the whole thing?
As he investigates more into the history of Round House, Scott discovers that the house is tied to both his family history and to that fire in the theater all those years ago. The awakened spirits hold a centuries-old secret that Scott must uncover before he, his brother, and his nephew become the next victims of Round House. But along the way, Scott discovers that the living members of the small-town may have even deadlier secrets they wish to keep buried.
Schreiber is a skilled writer, but he is not re-inventing the wheel here as the novel alludes to and occasionally borrows from the ghostly fiction by Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, Shirley Jackson and Fritz Leiber.
However, he does not blatantly rip-off these authors; rather, No Door, No Windows is carrying on the tradition of the spooky old house tale, and Schreiber proves himself to be a literary artist that is quite capable of handling the task. Schreiber breathes new life into the bones of the haunted house genre. The novel is recommended for all horror fans in general, but those who appreciate classic, subtle horrors will enjoy this novel the most.
Note: Review based on an advance copy.
Review by Chris Welch