Top critical review
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Creepy but repetitive - the suspense is not maintained.
on 6 May 2011
This book was initially one of those I had to put down and read something a bit lighter before I went to sleep, brilliantly creepy, descriptive and imaginative it was the horrors of urban life, helplessness and the trap of poverty and misery that disturbed me as much as the haunted house story. The many eccentricities of the British elderly and rich living in seclusion in a well off corner of London through the eyes of a young American and a disillusioned young artist was great, and the glimpses which could have been supernatural or a symptom of a distressed or disturbed mind were brilliant. However, I definitely do agree the book was repetitive, if the big reveal -what actually was in Apartment 16 had not been done so early or in such thorough detail and saved until the denouement it would have been much much better, the descriptions of the suffering and the mangled flesh became so commonplace it no longer had any impact by the slightly confusing end. It reminded me of The Shining, (which is fine as that's a suspenseful delight of a horror novel), especially considering Seth's ultimate fate, (which was fairly early on always going to have to be the outcome) and also the film Poltergeist, which is less of a compliment. The constant and somewhat half-arsed wittering about nazi's and vortexes and portals diminished it for me, more mystery and less attempt at explanation would have been better. The child and the relation to the other porter honestly did appear to have been a last minute addition to the story to tie up a few loose ends, as it didn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the plot except slightly because he couldn't just leave the job until he had a replacement to take on the curse of Barrington House because his wife had been looking for their dead son? Something like that?(again, very much like The Shining). On the whole I enjoyed it, bits were fantastic and others sound like the script from a schlocky hammer horror.