Let me start off by saying I've not seen the movie. I'm a huge horror fan, and I like Rob Zombie's movies. I don't exactly understand all the negative responses his movies get, but, whatever. I think they're fun, not masterpieces. Since I've been waiting so long to see the movie, I thought i'd get the book and give it a read.
First of all, it's clear Zombie didn't write this. It was all B.K. Evenson working from Zombie's script. I think he did a great job, based on what the source material must be like. A lot of the reviews for the movie have talked about how vague the plot is, and now I understand. Only the thinnest of plot is revealed in the first few chapters, and then it merely moves into "experiences" and visions of horror that the lead character, Heidi, has during her week. Some of her experiences are interesting, some are repetitive, and most of them are downright confusing. The omniscient narration jumbles from a character's thoughts, to trying describe supernatural formations (often becoming overly detailed and difficult to follow). I can't imagine bringing the script into a novel was an easy task. In fact, the book seems labored. I'm guessing the root of the problem is, of course, Zombie's script...full of details and symbolism that mean nothing to anyone and have no explanation. There are absolutely no ground rules to the evil entities in the book and no explanation of what they even are. Demons? Ghosts? Witches? Monsters? The witches are obvious, but what about the rest? It seems like every creature shows up in this book only to serve the purpose of being "scary". They're very detailed, and make very calculated choices and movements for reasons we're never given. It reminded me of a music video, with images edited together to provide something visual, but without any purpose. They're just there...doing stuff. Unfortunately, none of this came across as scary. Disturbing, maybe, but this isn't Stephen King territory. The book ends up being more gruesome than anything. Think of a torture pornish version of "Rosemary's Baby". Even the gore seems repetitive sometimes. How many times in a row can you read about a character having their throat ripped out? Be gruesome, fine, but change it up!
I don't think the book is all bad, I read it in a day and it did keep my attention most of the time. But, I have to wonder if the reason is because I have a huge personal interest in Salem witches, and I thought eventually the book would be going somewhere. It didnt. The whole thing comes off as a whole lot of style and little substance. Some of the nightmarish scenes are interesting, ill give it that. But, when it leads to nothing, what is the point? The characters are bland, the dialogue isn't very believable, and the constant obsessions characters have with looking like they live in the 70s' is really getting old in Rob's work. I've been to modern Salem, and while the book does well describing the setting, the characters just don't fit. I wish rob zombie would stop making every character dress like him, and share all of his interests, that's all I'm sayin. I'm still looking forward to seeing the movie, but, I'm a lot more skeptical. This is a quick horror read, but it's got nothing that makes it stand out. When I reached the end, i thought, "thats it?". It's very visual, your imagination is constantly working, but as it turns out, for no good reason. It's just page after page of descriptions and the little plot thrown in is, at best, predictable. I'd give it 2 1/2 stars, because I'm guessing Evenson did the best he could with a very visual film script that is a very odd choice for a novelization.