Beneath the Stairs

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When your most haunting memory from childhood has a death grip on your adult life, sometimes you have no choice but to confront your past…

Clare got out as fast as she could.  As soon as she was able to move away from her hometown and move on with her life, she jumped at the opportunity.  Her childhood was not a particularly happy one; her mom died from cancer when she was in elementary school, and she never could really connect with her father.  Her once simple friendships gradually became more complicated as they reached high school age and started to become involved in activities that were riskier than their innocent movie nights and sleepovers.

One night, things go too far.  A seemingly harmless trip to the town’s weirdly shaped “haunted house” changes the trajectory of everyone’s lives when a childish prank goes terribly wrong.  The trauma experienced by all involved was enough to shatter their seemingly carefree lives.

Years later, Clare is called back by Abby’s (the target of the prank) mom.  Clearly haunted by her past, Abby has tried to commit suicide, and her mom appeals to Clare to come back to see Abby in the ICU and speak over her troubled daughter in a vegetative state.  This forces Clare to confront her own literal and figurative ghosts that have been haunting her since that fateful night.  As she tries to make peace with her past, she is also forced to process what happened and how her life changed in an instant.  Was what happened in the house real?  And if it was, how could she possibly move past it when she feels forces beyond her control pulling her back beneath the stairs?

Why I read it: recommendation in an online book group

Trigger warnings: suicide, death, horror, sexual content, language, violence, psychotic episodes, murder, alcohol, drugs

What a ride!  This book was intense!  I love a “peel the onion” book that reveals more and more as the reader turns each page.  I also loved the way the author gave clues as to what was behind everything happening as this whole story was told in 3 totally different time periods.

I loved the imagery.  I could picture the characters as well as the setting.  I have never seen a house in the shape of an octagon before, but I had a clear view of what it looked like thanks to the author’s descriptions.  I loved the story telling.  Even though it was told in 3 time periods, it was so easy to follow, and I was never once confused.

The reason I didn’t give this book a solid 5 star rating was because there was one scene that made me incredibly uncomfortable.  I think you will know it when you come to it.  I understand the author was going for creepy and even a shock factor.  There was just something about it that just didn’t sit well with me.  A lot of times, I am able to overlook scenes like this…but this one stuck with me, and I couldn’t let it go.

With that being said, it’s a great, spooky read that kept me guessing until the end.

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