Author: Nic Sheff
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Rating: 1 Bird
Jen Noonan’s father thinks a move to Harmony House is the key to salvation, but to everyone who has lived there before, it is a portal to pure horror.
After Jen’s alcoholic mother’s death, her father cracked. He dragged Jen to this dilapidated old manor on the shore of New Jersey to “start their new lives”—but Harmony House is more than just a creepy old estate. It’s got a chilling past—and the more Jen discovers its secrets, the more the house awakens. Strange visions follow Jen wherever she goes, and her father’s already-fragile sanity disintegrates before her eyes. As the forces in the house join together to terrorize Jen, she must find a way to escape the past she didn’t know was haunting her—and the mysterious and terrible power she didn’t realize she had.
A classic horror story finds a terrifying home in Harmony House, drawing on favorite tropes and edgy, modern characters to create a chilling tale of blame, guilt, and ghostly revenge.
I picked up HARMONY HOUSE because the synopsis seemed amazing and the cover had a very Madeleine Roux vibe to it. Since I really enjoyed her Asylum series and this promised to be a creepy ride as well, I eagerly downloaded it.
Things start off with hopes of a good read. You get a very Casper (the movie) feel when they get to Harmony House and with the dad being half cracked in the head already there’s also this The Shining feeling that filters in. Sadly though, things very quickly start to fall apart all over the place.
The characters are seriously underdeveloped and all seem to have personality disorders that cause them to go from perfectly happy to murderous rage in .0002 seconds. This isn’t just something the dad does, as his cheater is supposed to be off his rocker, this is every single person we meet. From Jen to boys she meets on the road – everyone. I felt like I had whiplash trying to keep up with the mood swings.
One of the hardest parts with this was the fact that it effected Jen so frequently and since the book is from her POV it means it effects us as well. She would be calmly going about her business and then seconds later she’s swearing like a sailor in places it’s not even necessary. Even in her own thoughts this would happen. Aside from the fact that the constant cussing makes the language ineffective in a story like this, it also made me feel like the author didn’t have control over his own characters. He didn’t understand them, and didn’t really care to.
Underdeveloped characters weren’t the only issues. We have plot points that don’t add up and make me wonder if anyone read it through after it was drafted, let alone if it was even edited slightly before it hit the ARC stage. For instance, a huge amount of glass shatters all over the floor and Jen, who is mentioned to be bare foot at this point, walks through it with no mention of stepping on it, injuring herself – nothing. In fact the glassy mess is never brought up again. These kinds of things happen constantly, you just jump to a new place and are expected to forget about what just happened or fill in with your own story line.
And finally, we are thrown back and forth between visions, flashbacks and current day with no notice whatsoever. I had to often go back a paragraph or page to sort out where I was and what was going on. I was exhausted after finishing this one, I have to be totally honest.
I know that ARCs are not perfect versions of the story, but 99.999% of the time when a book reaches the ARC stage the worst thing you find are grammar mistakes and maybe a repeated line. Truthfully I felt like I was reading a first draft of a story. The bones were there but so much fleshing out was desperately needed it made this book nearly unbearable to complete. I was utterly shocked to read that Nic Sheff was a NYT best seller, because HARMONY HOUSE felt so underwritten for someone of his caliber