"The Bleeding Room" Book Review
Written by Barry Napier
2011, 318 pages, Fiction
Released on August 31st, 2011
The odds of reading two haunted house novels in less than three months and have them both be solid additions to the genre are astronomical. Luckily, that's exactly what happened to me. After enjoying Gina Ranalli's House of Fallen Trees, I started reading Barry Napier's The Bleeding Room. Napier's novel puts an entertaining and disturbing spin on haunted house stories by allowing technology to play a crucial role in the narrative and having most of the action take place outside the dwelling.
The Bleeding Room follows paranormal researcher and author Terrence Bennet and his two-man crew as they investigate and begin to work on a book on Ponderbrook, a house located in the quiet woods of a small town in southern Virginia. Also known as Hammer House, Ponderbrook has an incredibly dark and gory past. As Bennet and his crew set up cameras, take measurements, collect data and try to get a feel for the house, they realize there's something different about Hammer House. Even Bennet, a man who embodies skepticism, has to face the fact that something is going on. When the team goes home, whatever they managed to stir at the house tags along. Fear, violence, nightmares and a growing sense of alarm ensue. In the end, the horror that inhabits Ponderbrook will take over their lives and force the men to go back and face it head on.
Napier begins the book with the trio of researchers getting to the house and collecting data. They hear and see a few strange things, spend one night and leave. Initially, I was surprised and expected much more action and scares. However, the technique works perfectly. By giving the readers a taste of what's to come and then pulling them out of the situation, the author manages to make the eeriness of the place much worse via the characters' memories and allows for the terror to build with a constant crescendo that makes the payoff that much better.
While the first encounter with the house might make readers believe this is yet another classic tale, what comes next shatters that presumption. Technology, especially the video footage from the night they spent there, becomes central to the story and provides some of the spookiest moments in the book. Instead of using dreams or visions, Napier gives his tale an extra dose of scary by putting inconceivable creatures on something as common and irrefutable as tape. Also surprising was the speed with which things from normal to horrific, especially a bedroom scene between Bennet and his wife and a visit to Hammer House by a couple of youngsters.
You've probably seen one of those "reality" shows where a few guys with cameras go ghost hunting. If that's the case, you've probably also wished they would find something seriously evil. The Bleeding Room is that wish turned into a well-written, evil and monstrous novel.