Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Emmy & Barb's Book Review... The Waiting

The Waiting
Evan Tormer is haunted.


His life has been shattered by events beyond his control and regret is his constant companion. His wife is gone, lost to an unbeatable cancer. His son has been mentally and physically handicapped by a tragic accident. He’s been fired for using company funds in a failed attempt to save his wife’s life.


On a whim, Evan accepts an invitation to house sit on a picturesque island in northern Minnesota. At first it seems like the perfect second chance for he and his son to recover and rebuild their life together.


But there is something very, very wrong with the house and all that occupies it. And worst of all, Evan doesn’t know if the house is haunted..


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~Emmy’s Thought’s~


Today I’m reviewing another winner from Joe Hart.  He is fast becoming a favorite on my author’s list.  I thought I had the ending figured out, but I was in for one hell of a surprise.  This book did not end the way I expected it to…..it was better, and creepier than I imagined.  The scares in this one were not as overt and in your face as they were in The Lineage - you began to wonder if you were seeing things yourself, along with the character.  In my opinion that added an even more chilling element, the fact that I wasn’t sure if what I was reading was actually happening, or was in someone’s head.  Also I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it, there’s a doll in this story.  I hate dolls, and spent most of the book being creeped out by it.  There’s a lot of elements that are scary “triggers” in this novel: the isolated house, the creepy basement, strange sounds you can’t explain, that damn doll - all without anything actually jumping out at you and yelling booga booga booga.  The creep factor is severely high in this book.  I loved every second of it.  

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When we first meet Evan Tormer, he is in the middle of getting fired from his job.  He is getting fired because he stole money from the company to pay for experimental treatments in the desperate hope of curing his wife’s cancer. It was all in vain, his wife Elle died of the cancer, and although he replaced the money from her life insurance, the company lets him go.  He considers himself lucky that they didn’t pursue legal prosecution for the theft.  His only concern at this point is for his son, Shaun.  Shaun has a TBI (traumatic brain injury) due to a car accident when he was three.  He has to have physical and speech therapy, and 24 hour assistance.  Evan worries that he will have to let his nurse go, and that he will not be able to provide adequate care for Shaun.  From the very beginning of this novel the impression that you have of Evan is of a man who loves his son fiercely, but is otherwise unmoored from life, devastated by his wife’s demise.  He just doesn’t know what to do with himself.  


Evan’s best friend since childhood, Jason, offers him a position as a caretaker at a house that he has up north.  He initially refuses, not wanting to take the obvious handout.   But after a sleepless night wondering what he should do, he calls Jason back and takes the job.  He has done some freelance writing before, and figures he can use the time there to build up a nest egg of both articles and money.   The house is on an island that the locals call The Fin, and is accessible only by boat.   This gives Evan pause for a moment, but he goes with it.  I have to say, for such a small town, they had a surprisingly modern hospital and physical therapy unit, he didn’t have any trouble at all seeing to his son’s therapy needs.  The hospital also offers the services of a personal care assistant, if he needs it.  I found that surprising for as small of a town as it is described.  


Soon we see Evan and Shaun arriving on the Fin, carried out there by Jacob, a likable crusty character who runs the general store and was close to Jason’s grandparents, the original owners of the house.   They get an unpleasant surprise first thing.  The former caretaker, Bob, apparently just up and walked out one day, leaving all of his things behind, including all of the food in the fridge.  Ugh.  After dealing with that mess Evan starts exploring the house.  The lights don’t work in the basement, which is already starting to freak him out.  He goes down in the dark, tries the lights at the bottom of the stairs (which work) and about shits himself when the first thing he sees is a doll. {Which is something we would have all done.. I would have at least ~B} It’s standing up, so his first thought was that it was a child.  What’s creepy is that the doll’s mouth is covered with duct tape.  That would freak me out too.  He finds a huge unfinished grandfather clock as well, and thinks that the clock itself is scary.  It’s very large, with three cases for the pendulums.  He comments that the middle case is almost wide enough for a grown man to walk through.  He dreams about it that night, thinks he hears it ticking as he goes back to sleep. Next day they go to town, where Evan talks to Jacob, and asks him about the former caretaker.  There was a search for him, but nothing was ever found.  General consensus is that he just got tired of being there and walked off the job for parts unknown.  


Evan makes a connection with Selena Belgaurd - they meet when she loses her paddle from her canoe into the lake near the island and Evan gets it back to her.  {Listening to this part made it sound really dirty about her losing her ore… just saying.. ~B} She has a house on the other side of the lake, and is a psychologist.  She brings a pie by to thank them.  They share a glass of wine and he tells her about the car accident that caused Shaun’s TBI and that his wife died from cancer, two years later.  She seems interested in Evan, but notices that he is still wearing his ring.  Elle died fairly recently, so that’s not a big surprise.  That night he is sure that he hears the clock ticking from in the basement.  He shines a flashlight down the stairs, sees the doll standing on the landing, and about shits himself again.  (It must be one of those life size dolls?  And why is there duct tape on the damn thing’s mouth?) He looks again, and doll’s gone, back to where it was. {Chuuuuuuucky!!! Snorts ~B}  You see what I mean about you don’t know if the creepy things are happening or all in his head?  He checks on the clock, and nope, it’s still in pieces.


The creepy occurrences keep happening.  One evening he thinks he sees a body floating in the lake, but when he runs out to help no one is there.  Shaun has a scare, telling his daddy that he saw a doll while Evan was in the shower. (YIPES the dolls getting out of the basement) Selena makes regular appearances, establishing that she’s going to be the “love interest” in this book, although Evan is so far from being ready for that it’s laughable.  He starts obsessing about Bob walking off, wondering why.  He’s curious about the clock, and spends some time looking at the diagrams and drawings on the worktable.  Jason’s granddad and Bob both spent time working on the clock, and after finding some cryptic messages left by Bob Evan starts to think that the clock had more to do with Bob’s disappearance than any case of cabin fever did.  The isolation is starting to get to him, and Evan wonders himself if he’s getting a case of cabin fever as well.  He decides that he will find do some research on the mysterious clock, and try to write an article about it.  The history that he uncovers is dark, to say the least.   


The clock originally belonged to a man named Abel Kluge, a supposedly renowned clock maker from Chicago.  Rumor has it that the man was into the occult, there was a mystery surrounding his wife’s death. He and Selena make a date to scout out the Kluge’s abandoned house.  On the third floor they find the bedroom that the man’s wife was found dead in, and on the wall is the outline of the clock that’s in Evan’s basement.  Evan compares it to the images of people on the walls at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, created by the intense heat of the atomic bomb.  The room shows no evidence of being burned.  He looks out of the window and notices that all of the grass and plants surrounding the house are dead, almost in a perfect circle.  He’s pointed towards a Cecil Fenz for more information, and to my surprise, she actually talks to him.  She tells him a harrowing tale of violence and pain, how Abel Kluge and Allison, his mistress, held sway over Abel’s wife and the servants of the house for years. {Abel reminds me of the shop owner, Leland Gaunt, from Needful Things, just pissier and possibly a bit nastier...-~B} Abel built the clock, and the night that Allison and his wife died, Abel disappeared off of the face of the earth.  Cecil urges Evan to destroy the clock, before it destroys him and all that he holds dear.  
Evan winds up dismissing Cecil’s warning, thanks to a tragedy occurring at the house that could have caused his son harm and did eventually cost the life of an innocent nurse.  Evan begins to question his sanity, and the motivations of his friend for sending him out to the island. Jason’s grandparent’s death were mysterious as well, adding another facet to the mystery.   More and more information comes to light that draws you deeper into the mystery surrounding not just the clock, but Bob’s disappearance, Elle’s death, and the random occurrences happening around the house, which kick up into high gear towards the end of the book.  There is much more to learn and speculate on as this book draws closer to it’s heart pounding finale.  A finale, I might add, that I did NOT see coming.  I thought I had this one figured out, but nope, Joe got me good with this one.  (But you do eventually find out what’s up with that doll!)  There are more twists in this book than I have room to elaborate on here.  Just remember one thing…..nothing is as it seems.  


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~Barb’s Thoughts~


Well… what can I say. I saw Joe Hart and clicked buy. Its a new habit of mine. Joe’s got that special way of writing that makes you scared or maybe not scared but you are looking over your shoulder in the dark as you read. For an avid horror fan I frigging love it! And it helped that I get to drag Emmy with me… since she is a chicken. (snickers) Emmy started reading this one and finishing it before I started it but that’s okay. She cheats. But when she told me about this one (since we always share the books we read) I was like, yep this one is so next. Not that I wasn't going to read it anyway. And then I found it on audible and was like yes please and thank you. So when I couldn’t have my nose buried in my kindle I had my audio book going full force.


Soooo…. HOLY FUCKING HELL! I am usually, well sometimes able to figure out the twists. I pride myself on figuring them out before they pop up but let me tell you I never saw what happened coming. (huffs) But, I digress.. I think that made it 50 times better. The characters in this one are so real. You feel their pain, their hurt and as the things play out you really can see this play out. Step by freaky step. I was in no way expecting this one to play out the way it did. Evan -the main character- is a bit off of his game. his cracker jack box is only about half full and then goes to only peanuts left. With all that he has been through, the pain, torment and the utter loss he feels there really isn't any place for him to go.


And the dooollllllllllllll. (shudders) Dolls are just freaking fuckers at it is but this one is just uber freaky. The isolation factor adds to the mystery and freakishness surrounding this story as well. I’m all for a haunted house, a creepy manor in  a secluded spot and some freakishness but this book has it all doubled, tripled and then it jumps up and says “Ello poppet” slaps your face and runs off. By the end of the story I sat there mouth gaped open going Holy shit. Speechless.. and for me that is not something that like ever happens. There was even one point towards the end of the book, thanks to the audio book that I got so engrossed I jumped. Me.. I was like dude chill. (laughs) I shook it off and kept going.


So you know how to judge this books… take The Shinning, The Sixth Sense and Dark Half put them in a blender, mix them up and shake them all about. What falls out of the mix it what we have here. EPIC. FRIGGING. BOOK. (And yes I realize thats two Stephen King references but I would say Joe is the same boat. He has the talent to make anything you read so engrossing you can’t stop. #Truth)


And as our final thoughts here.. we are total fan girls of Joe’s and not ashamed of it. There will be more of his books reviewed in the near future. We have a list started… :)


Until next time, Keep it between the pages!

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