Reviews for How To Sell A Haunted House

by Grady Hendrix

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A woman returns home to bury her parents only to find a spectacularly terrifying blast from the past waiting for her. By now, Hendrix is deep-dipped in 1970s and '80s horror tropes after depicting a haunted IKEA in Horrorstör (2014) and subsequent excursions into vampirism, exorcism, serial slaying, and the like. This one is set in the present day, but Hendrix is hooked up to another Stephen King IV drip, nicely emulating the elder’s penchant for everyday human drama while elevating the creep factor with his own disquieting imagination. Louise Joyner is beyond disbelief when her estranged brother, Mark, calls to tell her their parents are dead after a suspicious car accident. As she reluctantly returns home to Charleston, South Carolina, the underachieving Mark is already plotting to cheat her out of her half of the house, while a pair of quixotic aunts try to make peace between the two. One sticking point is the fate of the hundreds of dolls their mother, Nancy, made, collected, curated, and obsessed over. Mark’s boneheaded schemes; Louise’s yearning for her 5-year-old daughter, Poppy; and their collective grief introduce the tale, but Hendrix wastes no time in ratcheting the Pennywise vibes up to 11. It’s little surprise that the siblings’ secret tormentor is Pupkin, their mother’s very favorite puppet-—"The one who made Louise’s skin crawl. The one she hated the most.” Pupkin is newly prone to temper tantrums and homicidal rage when he doesn’t get what he wants—and since he can’t yet conceptualize that Nancy is dead, he just wants her back home with him. Horrific visions of anthropomorphic dolls, a bloody, near-fatal misadventure, and emotional extortion including nail-biting child peril soon follow. Pupkin the killer puppet doesn’t have the foul mouth of Chucky or the primal menace of the aforementioned clown, but the combination of Hendrix’s trippy take on the stages of grief and a plethora of nightmare fuel delivers a retro wallop for those in the mood. Warm up the VCR and fire up the air popper for a most bitchin’ horror story by a gifted practitioner of these dark arts. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.