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The Birthing House Paperback – 1 Jan 2009
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If The Birthing House had just been a biting and well-written novel about a contemporary marriage, that would have been enough to make it worth your time. If it had just been the kind of genuinely scary story that makes little hairs stand up on the back of your neck, that would have been sufficient as well. But what's remarkable is that it manages to have the best of both genres, without sacrificing thrills for insight. This is a rare thing: a ghost story with class. Read it. (Peter Blauner)
A new twist on a haunted-house tale for the next generation of horror...See all Product description
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This novel has been compared to 'The Shining'. How unfair. How many writers do you know that could compete with the likes of Stephen King, let alone with their first novel. Christopher Ransom has his own writing style which I found so compelling that I not only finished the book within a week, but I am also the proud owner of every novel he's written since. The novel is psychological rather than a slasher type horror, and as such relies on characters and atmosphere to tell the story instead of lashings of blood. Some people may find the slow pace boring, but for me it just added to the suspense.
If you love old-fashioned ghost stories then you'll love this, but if you are looking for something exactly like 'The Shining', may I suggest reading...erm...The Shining?
Similarities with Stephen King are laughable. Christopher Ransom can write prose fairly decently but his story telling is woeful. Give this a miss. It is neither scary nor interesting. Never judge a book by its cover!
It purports to be a 'horror/ghost' story, but its major failing is that it is not at all scary - in fact for the first half of the book I thought maybe it wasn't a ghost story at all but some sort of mid-life crisis story about the central character - Conrad. (I should point out that I am very easily scared with an over-active imagination and have to sleep with the lights on after watching scary films so if you can't scare me, you're not going to scare anyone!)
As several other reviewers have pointed out - the ending is just terrible - really rushed and badly executed. The device by which Conrad finds out what happened to Alma is levered in with a crow-bar and even then large parts of it are nonsensical. Either leave the past as a mystery or explain it properly!
The idea behind the book is sound but just wasted in poor execution. The initial characterisation is ok too - but Conrad's & Jo's descent into 'madness' is too abrupt and not at all convincing. Take The Shining as a benchmark and this falls far short.
All in all I found this to be a very unsatisfying read and would not recommend it.
First of the all, the only scary thing about this book is how bad the writing actually gets. It progressively degrades and by the time you reach the end section and the author attempts to draw you into the action and make use of what I like calling "active flashbacks" you just completely lose track of what the heck is going on and the writing becomes the biggest anti-climax of a story which already lacked any punch.
The worst thing about this book though has got to be the characters. Conrad and Jo's relationship is the stuff of either extremely adolescent fantasies or a deliberate artifact used to annoy the reader to extremes in order to create some kind of emotional layer in the story. If the latter is true,then it just simply doesn't work, as every time Conrad and his wife had a conversation over the phone I felt like I had to fight just that bit more against my reflex to put the book down.
In short, an extremely dissapointing book which makes you think twice about believing the "best-seller" claims of WH Smith book shelves by checkout counter.
I feel like the author took a lot of promising ideas and horror tropes and threw them down on a page and used that as the plot. None of the characters acted in a way that I would expect real people to act, and the only character I had the remotest bit of sympathy for was the pregnant neighbour. The idea of the haunted birthing house itself is a good one for horror - but it was poorly executed and I just couldn't enjoy any part of this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
Had to stop reading at night time because it gave me nightmares!
There were a few moments in this book where I found myself flickering...Read more
I really don't understand why this book has been given such bad reviews. I enjoyed every moment even though parts of it scared me silly!Read more