House (Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker)

House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker (image courtesy of Westbowpress.comRating: [rate 3]
One game. Seven players. Three rules. Game ends at dawn.

The only way out is in.

House is the first novel written by two of the best Christian suspense fiction writers: Frank Peretti (author of This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, The Oath) and Ted Dekker (author of Thr3e, Blink, Black, White, Red). This is really interesting for me because I love Peretti, and I’ve started liking Dekker already, and I was eager to read something written by them.

WARNING: Post may contain spoilers.

House starts with a couple named Jack and Stephanie Singleton, on their way to a counseling session for a marriage headed for divorce. Jack is a writer while Stephanie is a country singer, and apparently, they couldn’t stand each other anymore. While driving, a police officer chased them because Jack’s brake light is out, and then it turns out they were lost. The police officer points them to an alternate route, but someone sabotaged their tires and they end up at Wayside Inn, this little house by the side of the dusty road. There they met Leslie Taylor, a psychologist, and Randy Massarue, a know-it-all businessman, who also got into the same accident as well. They start to settle into the Inn, and then found a table set for four in the dining room, as if the owners of the house were expecting them.

Enter Betty, the hostess, who barks orders to everyone as she prepares dinner. Then came Pete, Betty’s son, who seems to be mentally retarded except for the fact that he’s looking at Leslie as a potential wife. Then finally, Stewart, Betty’s husband, a rude bald brute who seemed to be in for Randy.

As their initial dinner progresses, some of the first four character’s backgrounds are starting to be uncovered, but not that much. Then things take another turn as the four tries to escape, Barsidious White comes in: the “owner” of the house, and the serial killer who has been killing different people for the past few months. He locks them in the house and then rolls a tin can from the chimney with the house rules written:

1. God came into my house and I killed him.
2. I will kill you like I killed God.
3. Give me one dead body and I might let rule 2 slide.

And then hell breaks loose as all of them try to get out of the house, trying to decide who should die and who should be responsible for killing and all that. And then all of them ends up in the basement, where White wants all of them. They go, run around the corridors, looking for a way out. Then Jack finds a girl named Susan, who has been trapped inside the house for three days and they wonder if she would be their way out of it…then Susan disappears and Jack tries to find her and finds her, and then they go around the basement once again, looking for a way to get out alive.

I suppose it could be a good book…it started out quite well, and I was actually curious about what the background of the four main characters were. But I never really got what they were guilty of, until around the end, after they have run around the house for so many times already. When everyone was in the basement, I thought more action would come, a lot more things revealing and whatnot, but nooo, they still continued running around, trying to find a way around the basement and out the house. They kept on running that even I couldn’t imagine how the basement looks like (except maybe for the boiler room, where they all kept on coming back to almost everytime). I never really did understand why there was suddenly two of everyone too.

The resolution sort of helped it redeem itself, but I couldn’t decide if the ending was dragging or rushed. It lacked explanation and even I couldn’t understand what Susan wanted Jack and Stephanie to see, until they somehow explained it. And even if it seems like Susan was offering them the solution, I still couldn’t see it either! Until it happens, and then, that’s it. The end, with all the “shoo!”-ing that Stephanie did.

I’ve never been more excited to end a Peretti/Dekker novel until this one. I’ve always been sad whenever I finish reading a good story because it feels like I was saying goodbye to the characters, which have, over the past couple of hours/days of reading, have become my friends as I join in on their story. When I finished it, all I could think of was, “Thank goodness it’s over.” The characters didn’t make such an impact on me; in fact, it felt like I didn’t know them at all.

Sure, the story is scary and it kept me awake for a night…but after seeing them running around and around, it struck me as ridiculous already. Maybe it’s because the novel is written they way it is like a movie, but then…a lot more explanations and details would be appreciated.

The message of the book is commendable though: we could never fight our sin with our own effort, but only with the Son of Man, who is the light that the darkness could not understand.

Maybe when I read this again I’ll like it better, but for now, I’ll give it three stars. I still love Peretti and Dekker, and if they do write another novel together, I’d read that…but I sure hope it’s better than House. :P