Monday, May 26, 2008

Daemon Hall by Andrew Nance

This novel, while it won't give you nightmare, might give you a few chills. The premise is that five aspiring writers enter into a contest to be published but have to survive the night in a haunted mansion in order to win. Horror writer Ian Tremblin created the contest for his fans and joins them in Daemon Hall, an infamous haunted house. Among the contestants is the narrator, Wade Reilly, who suffers from panic attacks and fears going crazy. Soon the five contestants arrive at Daemon Hall and have to recite the story that they submitted for the contest. After the last story is read, though, strange things start happening in the house, mostly the contestants disappearing and the house locking them in. Amidst this chaos, Ian Tremblin insists that the contestants continue telling stories, believing that the house will let them go once all stories are told. Pretty soon it's a real horror version of Ten Little Indians.

This is an interesting way of doing a scary story anthology. It's a series of stories within a story - the final short story of the evening being the one the characters are living. It took a while for the main story to get eerie and once it does it's not too terrible. The stories, big and small, are not the original, but, then again, no story is entirely new. The stories ranged from vampires to psychotic serial killers to mutant spiders, supernatural televisions and possessed artifacts. The first story even sets the tone for the mysterious Daemon Hall. As for the Ten Little Indians premise, it was obvious who the "survivor" would be since the story was first person and and, in Ian Tremblin's morbid version, "The last finalist, almost had it won. Poor thing went insane and then there were none" (11). I would have liked, though, a little more of the mysterious Daemon Hall. Certain mysteries were presented, such as the matron of the household, but never explained. But, then again, maybe the creepiness of the story is not knowing.

In terms of chilling you to the bone, this novel isn't the best. It does provide a few eerie moments, but not enough to give sleepless nights. I do, though, think it could make for an interesting movie. The book created some startling visual scenes but some were confusing to visualize. A movie version might step up the creep factor.

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