In Rockridge, Ohio, a sinister family moves into a sleepy cul-de-sac. The Eldreds feed on the negative emotions of humans, creating nightmarish realms within their house to entrap their prey. Neighbours are lured into the Eldreds home and faced with challenges designed to heighten their darkest emotions so their inhuman captors can feed and feed well. If the humans are to have any hope of survival, they’ll have to learn to overcome their prejudices and resentments toward one another and work together. But which will prove more deadly in the end, the Eldreds . . . or each other?
Hi and welcome to my stop on the tour for The Forever House! As always huge thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and to Flame Tree Press for the review copy!
An ordinary cul-de-sac in an ordinary town in Midwest USA. Ordinary, average, normal, until one day in swoops the Eldred family. And life will never be the same again…
The Eldreds are Father Hunger, the Werewife, their children Low Prince and Nonsister, the Grandother, and their friend/servant Machine Head, who does in fact consist only of a mechanical head and a few little insect leg thingies that he can use to walk or, better still, to latch onto a (headless) human body so he can be a little more mobile. (Until his body-on-loan begins to rot, obviously, but oh well, nothing lasts forever.)
The Eldreds have a bit of an Addams family vibe going on, but where the latter are weird and quirky but fairly harmless, the Eldreds are weird and quirky and absolutely lethal. They feed on negative emotions but, although human flesh doesn’t sustain them, it is tasty, so no part of any person is safe in any way, and they have found quite the feeding ground in this little cul-de-sac…
You see, no one can know what goes on behind closed doors, and although this part of town seems peaceful, its residents are really not at all at peace. There’s the neighbour with the gambling problem and consequential marital issues and there’s the one who has just realised that his wife is bi and doesn’t know how to deal with that, there’s the neighbour who still misses his ex-wife, and there’s the one who saved her son Spencer from his abusing father years ago, but fears that she was too late and that his brain is addled for life. She’s not wrong: Spencer is sexually attracted to the little girl next door, he realises it’s wrong and so far he’s managed to stay away from her and children in general, but the urge is there and it’s getting harder to ignore…
Let’s not beat about the bush: there are some highly uncomfortable scenes in The Forever House, child abuse scenes (Spencer and his father) but mostly Spencer voicing his urges, which made my stomach crawl and would definitely be a trigger for certain readers. (If the Eldreds had been near when I was reading those parts, they would have been able to feast on my emotions for sure!) So yes, disturbing, disgusting even, including for readers like me who don’t have any triggers, but I do have to say that I liked where Tim Waggoner took this particular storyline, and I liked that Spencer has a conscience, and that he’s convinced he would rather hurt himself than hurt a child.
Despite feeling very uncomfortable at times, I did enjoy The Forever House very much! It has all the elements I look for in horror and I loved their execution. Although the Eldreds are obviously the bad guys, I loved them! I also loved how The Forever House made me think about real life. I mean, here you have this demonic, soul-sucking family, but the paedophile neighbour is a whole lot scarier, as are the mixed feelings of his mother (naturally she loves her son to bits, but she contemplates on a daily basis what she might be willing to do to him to keep him from doing harm). The world-building is amazing and the finale highly satisfying. I spent half the book wondering how I wanted it to end and how it might end (total annihilation, a final girl / last man standing, a happy ending?), but I never came close to predicting the manner in which it did end, and I loved it!
Highly recommended to (trigger-free) horror fans!
Do check out the other stops on this tour, including my tour buddy for the day, Jules at onemoreword.uk!