Just a few more days until Halloween and so I thought we might as well talk about something spooky for a change. I read Lauren Oliver‘s novel Rooms which scared me quite a bit. Thank you HarperCollins International for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis quoted from HarperCollins US¹:
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
Rooms is set in a house in Coral River, New York. While the house is old, there isn’t much to help you place the different time periods talked of, so I sometimes got confused as to when Alice and Sandra actually lived while they were still alive.
The ghosts of Alice and Sandra have become one with the walls of the house which is a very original idea. While they both get separate chapters to comment on the happenings, I’m having problems distinguishing the two of them. They are just too similar. On the other hand, they are two ghosts merged with the walls of a house, so they do have one obvious thing in common. The character I like most is Amy, a little girl who is often overlooked by the others but seems to have a lot of insight into the things going on. She’s like a ray of sunshine on a dreary day.
In Rooms, the narrative voice and time alternates between first person narration in present tense with Alice and Sandra, and third person narration in past tense with the characters who are still alive. This is quite irritating and takes some getting used to. Other than that, Rooms is a light read about lots of unresolved family business, but if you are a scaredy-cat like me, it is enough to make you dread to go to the bathroom at night.