Tales From a Haunted 'House'
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You’ve never heard about a haunted house quite like this one. The new novel, House, by popular fiction authors Frank Peretti (This Present Darkness, The Oath, Monster)and Ted Dekker (Blink, Thr3e, Showdown) will keep you turning the pages – and keep you up at night.
When two couples find themselves stranded in rural Alabama they seek shelter in an abandoned antebellum hotel. They quickly realize they are not alone and the ‘house’ they have entered is unlike any they have ever seen. They soon find themselves in a life or death game of survival with a psychotic serial killer.
The “game” that he has developed for his unwilling participants has only three rules and ends at dawn – just 12 hours away. If they do not satisfy the rules set forth for the game by the time the sun rises, they will all be killed.
House reads like a Stephen King novel, which is not surprising considering both authors have written such supernatural thrillers before, and Dekker has been a fan of some of King’s work since he was young.
“I loved The Stand by Stephen King,” Dekker said. “I read it when I was about 15 years old, and it blew me away. It is by far his most redemptive story.”
House, too, is quite redemptive. However, getting to the story’s redemptive ending may be an arduous journey for some. Some readers may find parts of the story a little too disgusting to enjoy. The novel paints evil with a very dark brush -- something for which Dekker does not apologize.
“I would say that any attempt to whitewash evil in a story such as House, which is written to speak the truth about the struggle between good and evil, is misguided, regardless of any good intention,” Dekker said.
While some squeamish readers may criticize the authors for depicting evil so vividly, Dekker said the stories told by God and expressed through His prophets in the Bible “are far uglier than any I would dare to put on paper today.” As proof, he pointed to Old Testament phrases that declare, “Your sin is like… .” He said readers will also find those descriptions very dark and offensive, as they should, because they describe our sins.
Although he described House as possibly the darkest novel he has written so far, he said he feels the approach that he and Peretti took was justified.
“To whitewash this theme so as not to offend a few would do grave injustice to it and to the Hero in whose honor it was written,” Dekker said. “Remember, this is based on a true story, in which a man died over 2,000 years ago to redeem similar houses of darkness throughout the ages.”
Indeed House is packed with powerful spiritual truths, but they do not overshadow the story. The authors simply tell a good story and then leave the rest up to God as to how He will use it in people’s lives.
It is this power that stories have, Peretti said, that makes him continue to write novels. “Story is an integral part of the human experience. Every one of us tells stories every day,” he said. “Stories light a spark in my spirit. God made me to be a storyteller.”
Dekker agreed. “I use story to explore life in all of its struggles and joys through characters subjected to imagined, yet similar, struggles and joys. As such, it’s far more real than non-story.”
Working together to craft the story for House was apparently an interesting experience for the pair of writers. With two creative minds each used to telling a story in their own way, Peretti said, the process of working together was “complex at times.” Dekker compared the process to iron sharpening iron.
Peretti said he has concluded, “Writing a novel by yourself is much easier.”
The two also acknowledged that they have very different styles of writing. “Frank’s writing is like coffee – it tends to stimulate,” Dekker said. “I think Frank has said that my writing makes coffee nervous.”
Creative processes aside, the authors combined their writing styles flawlessly in producing this story. Among the surprise plot twists like those that often grace Dekker’s novels, and the creative and sinister characters similar to those that Peretti is known for, even ardent fans of both writers will have difficulty guessing who wrote which parts.
The mind-bending thriller pulls the reader in from the very beginning and quickly embarks on an epic journey into the heart of darkness. Readers may be surprised to learn that what they find there is not as foreign to them as they might have expected.
The story moves along at a quick pace and the tale is suspenseful enough to keep the reader on edge until the very end. It is truly difficult to stop reading once you start.
Dekker said the message in ‘House’ is “the simplest yet most profound” that he has ever written about.
Ultimately, the book describes an important decision that we all must grapple with -- whether or not we will embrace the only One who has the power to overcome evil. He offers himself to us freely, but we must allow Him to be our rescuer.
Just as it is for the characters in the book, it is a decision on which our very lives depend.
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