Friday, March 25, 2016

ARC Review: Harmony House by Nic Sheff

Title: Harmony House
Author: Nic Sheff
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: March 22nd 2016
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Okay, I was actually really interested in Harmony House because it sounded so good on paper. I thought I would finally get a legit horror novel that would freak me out but nope, this book failed on all accounts; because as I was reading Harmony House, I viewed the scenes in the book like a movie. Slowly uncovering the secrets of the house and the Noonan family. But about two-thirds into the book, I felt like I was duped and if this book/movie wasn't free, I would want my money back.

Jen, the protagonist? I hated her. She was a shit character. I get that she was grieving for her mother's death but I didn't understand why she had to be so rude to her father. Sure, he's a religious zealot but to call him a "cocksucker" within his hearing distance? I really did not understand. And the way Jen reacted to some of the townspeople who were only being nice? Really not good. (And there was this scene in the latter part of the book which involved a bathtub after a storm, wherein she just brushed off this crazy thing that happened like it was no big deal when, in fact, it was a very big deal. Also, this big deal had no explanation whatsoever how it happened, why it happened or anything at all.)

One of the things that confused me about Harmony House is its time setting. Nic Sheff set the main parts of the novel in 1997 but I hardly saw any traces of that time in the book. I don't understand why he chose that particular year if nothing significant relevant to that time happened/was going to happen.

Regarding the actual plot/story of Harmony House, I was actually feeling this creepy vibe as I was slowly delving into the book. It started to kind of resemble The Amityville Horror but that all went down the drain when Rose, this nice lady with a gift, mentions Jen's power. WHY. Why did Nic Sheff have to ruin the book with all that "You're gifted" crap? Even more than that, I feel like this book was confused whether it should be a thriller or a horror novel because there is zero explanation as to how things came to be. Hell, the prologue didn't even make any sense by the end of the book. Everything was so disjointed and so unorganised. Harmony House lacked explanations and not in a teasing way that you normally find in horror movies/books, it was as if Nic Sheff would throw out ideas into the book and then drop them abruptly with no reason at all (he doesn't even tell you why its there and how it happened).

Harmony House failed, not only as a horror novel but as a book, period. I was a confused mess majority of the book when all I really wanted were some answers; answers that I never got. I was stuck with a mean/unlikable-and-not-in-a-good-way MC, a creepy dad, a hella confusing house and questions that don't mean anything anymore. Harmony House went downhill, and fast.


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