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House    by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker order for
by Frank Peretti
Order:  USA  Can
WestBow, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

On their way to marriage counseling, Jack and Stephanie are pulled over by a police officer in remote Alabama. He sends them on a detour and their tires are shredded by spikes placed along an obscure back road. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, they come across a sign for The Wayside Inn. They find the appealing home and go inside to find a telephone. The inn appears to be deserted, except for another couple - Leslie and Randy. Eventually the proprietors show up, an extremely odd family of three. Then strange things begin to happen.

A man tries to break into the inn, attempting to shoot them, but actually locking them inside. He sends in a note:

'Welcome to my house. House rules:

God came to my house and I killed him.
I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God.
Give me one dead body, and I might let rule two slide.
Game over at dawn.

The rules set into motion a night filled with terror, where each person is pitted against the others. But the worst enemy might not be the mysterious man.

House has an extremely interesting premise and a great beginning to hook the reader. Taken as a whole, it's an intriguing read. The themes of evil and redemption are keys in both Dekker's and Peretti's novels, so it makes sense that they follow the same ideas with their collaborative effort. This is a truly scary book. It's not one you'll want to read alone or late at night.

However, the shortcomings almost overshadow the book's overall impact. There is little, if any, character development. The reader never gets a sense of who any of the people are, and when it becomes apparent what is actually happening in the house, some background on the characters would have gone a long way to helping the reader identify with their plights. If unresolved evil is driving the story ahead, knowing the evil in the characters' lives would clarify a lot.

There's also not a great deal of plot. As a horror/thriller, it's exciting and heart pounding. But if you're looking for a deep spiritual message, this isn't a place to get it. Lots of supernatural events and a scary haunted house, yes, but this book is nowhere near as meaningful as Ted Dekker's previous Showdown. House is entertaining if you don't expect too much from it.

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