It’s difficult to think of a movie or book that doesn’t share some elements on the surface level with Jay Anson’s original The Amityville Horror–whispering voices, doors that open and close by themselves, faulty faucets and electricity, etc. These are the things we’ve come to expect from a haunted house.

 

Now, I’ve never read Anson’s book, but I am familiar with the real-life story of the Lutz’s and their experiences in the 1970s, and I’ve seen both movies. It’s a pretty basic setup: a young couple and their children move to a new house that’s mysteriously cheaper than it should be, and after hearing odd noises in the night, they discover that the previous family died there, along with a bevy of other spooks buried in the basement. This new book by Micol Ostow is a reimagining of the legend told through two teen characters separated by ten years. The real trick in revisiting a classic is not to simply tell the same story a slightly different way, but to focus on the characters. Ostow has created an entirely new cast, bringing their own unique perspectives and goals into the picture. She’s also put the house itself front and center as another character, which sets up this whole new, spooky dynamic when our new heroes attempt to communicate with it.

This story scared me, which is high praise from a life-long horror fan–the atmosphere is thick and gloomy, the pacing is tense, and the finale is every bit as gut-wrenching as it should be, even if you work out where it’s going long before reaching it. The thing is, when you have a haunted house story that’s taken from an already well-known venue, the fact that it’s haunted isn’t really important. It’s not about the haunting–it’s about the people, and how they react to an age-old scenario that their predecessors failed to survive. Ostow understands that remarkably well, and it makes all the difference.

Place a hold for Amity here!

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