My brother is who I go to for all horror book recommendations; follow his Instagram and Twitter, he writes great reviews. I asked him did he know of any books similar to Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I wanted something that had to do with Native American burial grounds, folklore, etc. and he suggested Night Stone by Rick Hautala. This book had a few issues but was an overall great start to my spooky season reads. I’ll get into my thoughts after the synopsis. This review will have spoilers.
The old house in Maine gave Beth the creeps. She couldn’t believe they were really moving in. If it weren’t for the wooden doll she had found in the closet of her new bedroom, she would have been miserable. But the strange hand-carved figure fascinated her, and she sensed with a child’s instinct that she had to hide it from her parents…
It was a house of darkness and shadows, but with her secret doll, Beth wasn’t afraid. Not even when she heard the scratching and whispering at night. Not even when the tall massive stones of her dreams began to ooze with blood. For as she stared into the eyes of the wooden doll, she heard it call to her and felt the force of its evil power. And she knew that it was about to tell her what she had to do…
The story starts with the main characters, Don, Jan and Beth, moving to Maine to live in a home that was built by Don’s Finnish-American grandparents in the early 1900s. I’ll briefly summarize my thoughts about the characters and then get into what I thought about the actual story.
Don is a very stereotypical dad, complete with “dad jokes.” I liked his character, the story is told from his point of view most of the time, but he did get on my nerves quite a bit because he’s just slightly dull and really dumb; I’ll get into this more below.
Jan could have honestly disappeared and I wouldn’t have cared. She complained about anything and everything throughout the entire book. At one point, she even has an affair because she’s bored after 17 years of marriage. She tells Don about it, blames it completely on him and he stays with her because again, he’s dumb. None of the supernatural incidents really affected her so she literally could have not been in the book and the outcome would have been the same.
As for Beth, she had a lot of potential that I don’t think was ever fully fleshed out. As soon as they arrived at the house, Beth found a creepy wooden doll and was immediately obsessed with it. From that point, nothing major happens with Beth until the end of the book. There are a few very creepy moments where it’s obvious that “something” is going on with her but her parents never pick up on it. I expected her role in the strange occurrences to be larger than it was since she was *spoiler* being controlled by the doll.
There was also a side character named Billy who was Native American. He became friends with Don and helped him excavate the opening to the tunnel. He had like a “sixth sense” that allowed him to sense supernatural things and he also had a slight psychic ability. Since Billy was a Native American and his ancestors were tied to the land, I assumed his role in the story was going to be much bigger than it was. I even thought he might be being influenced by the spirits. He ended up getting killed on the property and that was it. There was a lot of build up and eeriness around his character for nothing, which was disappointing.
This book is going to be most appropriate for mature teens and up. There is nothing explicit in it but there is some mild sexual content and of course, horror. I enjoyed the overall story but I do think it could have been at least 25% shorter. There is a lot of Don doing home improvement projects and Jan complaining/working. I found myself skimming those parts but the scary parts were really good. It left me feeling jumpy many times and the overall mystery of what was going on compelled me to keep reading. However, I was frustrated with the story many times, primarily because of Don.
The home was built on an ancient burial ground and this is obvious from the beginning but it takes Don a painful amount of time to put the clues together. It’s never made clear if the forces in the property were “guiding” Don to do the things he does or if he was just really dumb. For example, he repeatedly saw things outside at night and every single time he would run out to investigate and of course, something creepy would happen. Each time he would be surprised by what he saw and then be in denial about it. He also finds some interconnected tunnels where he hears mysterious scratching and voices so what does he do? He fully tears them apart until he finds the Native American guardian/skeleton who obviously tries to kill him but somehow Don makes it out alive. Don is every stereotypical white person in any horror scenario and I honestly don’t understand how he wasn’t killed.
I’m not saying that Don was badly written, he wasn’t, he just lacked any common sense but hey, there’s plenty of people in real life that lack common sense. The book was actually very well written and enjoyable to read… except for Jan.
Night Stone is a creepy page turner and I fully recommend it if you want something spooky to read during October. I’d love to know what you thought about my review or what you’re reading right now! Thanks for reading and have a great day!