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A Stroll Down to the Haunted House

“The Villa”

by M. Warnasuriya, 2020

The book starts with a relaxed pace and maintains it throughout. Our heroes, Susan and Jason, are just the nicest people. He's a doctor and she's a housewife. We get to follow them through their many domestic activities. The strongest curse uttered is “Oh my goodness!”

Then the mysterious caretaker, Norton, is introduced in Chapter 4. Apparitions begin flitting throughout the house and grounds. When a woman goes missing we know these ghosts mean business.

The caretaker becomes surly and makes vague threats but neither Susan or Jason will consider firing him. The way any sane person would.

Taking place in 1991, the lack of computers and Internet searches in the story makes sense. They do have cellular phones (which were the size of a brick in those days).

There's some other curiosities here. A fetal heartbeat is heard about a month earlier than possible. We're told that July is six months away, but people are outside after dinner and the beach is full of swimmers. In a diary entry from 1868, someone parks a car.

The book manages to achieve one of my pet peeves: right after the deaths of loved ones, the hero and heroine have sex. To celebrate??

If you don't mind the book's languid tone and passive voice, it's a nice read. It's not bad writing, just leisurely. The climactic exorcism scene, however, is dramatic.

4 stars.

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