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Burnt Offerings (1973)

de Robert Marasco

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One of the scariest haunted house novels ever written, "Burnt Offerings" chronicles the story of Ben and his family renting a house out in the New York countryside, and the horror that unfolds there. Contains new artwork, film stills, reproductions of movie posters, and more.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 21 (següent | mostra-les totes)
One of the five iconic American haunted house (a malevolent dwelling, not a residence for spooks) novels. Clearly on the path from [b:The Haunting of Hill House|89717|The Haunting of Hill House |Shirley Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327871336s/89717.jpg|3627] to [b:The Shining|11588|The Shining (The Shining, #1)|Stephen King|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1353277730s/11588.jpg|849585]. Marasco does a great job of describing the psychological effect on the Rolfes and Aunt Elizabeth as the Allardyce house takes over their lives a little at a time. Everyone goes along until it is too late and Marian has become the focal point for/of the nebulous unseen Mrs. Allardyce The creepiness and suspense escalates (Are they ever going to get out of this?) without much overtly supernatural happening, the changes are all subtle, like in a [a:Robert Aickman|36998|Robert Aickman|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1212692401p2/36998.jpg] story.

One can see where [a:Stephen King|3389|Stephen King|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1362814142p2/3389.jpg] took the best of Marasco and [a:Shirley Jackson|13388|Shirley Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1196262589p2/13388.jpg] and melded them together in The Overlook.

The ending is for me more satisfying than Hill House or the Shining by being both more concrete than the former while less overt than the latter.

Marasco's prose is easy to read without being dumbed down, more like King, but not as lyrical or as evocative as Jackson. Drags a little towards the last third as we see the inevitable already on its way but Marasco wants to fool around with expectations (or pad a novella) a little too much without succeeding in building any more real suspense.

Anyone interested in American horror should read the five iconic haunted house novels: [b:The Haunting of Hill House|89717|The Haunting of Hill House |Shirley Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327871336s/89717.jpg|3627], [b:Burnt Offerings|897717|Burnt Offerings|Robert Marasco|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1297539225s/897717.jpg|882910], [b:The House Next Door|104217|The House Next Door|Anne Rivers Siddons|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1171509777s/104217.jpg|2886217], and [b:The Shining|11588|The Shining (The Shining, #1)|Stephen King|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1353277730s/11588.jpg|849585]. The [b:The Amityville Horror|293101|The Amityville Horror|Jay Anson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1306079371s/293101.jpg|284389] is optional since it purports to be nonfiction (it isn't) and therefore turns out to be a fun but ultimately unsatisfying and sloppy novel. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
If Burnt Offerings had been written by a woman, it could have been a feminist horror novel, but as it stands, it instead feels vaguely like an indictment of a certain type of woman/wife/mother. I enjoyed reading it but didn't really find it scary or spooky, perhaps because I was a little stuck on the 1970s feel (which I also get reading The Shining). A worthwhile addition for anyone with a desire to get a sense of the history of the horror genre. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | May 4, 2022 |
Well, now I'm a little upset that Marasco didn't write a whole whack of horror novels after this one. It's a bit of a slow burn up to the horror, and the horror isn't overt, but more psychological, but it's a great tale, nonetheless.

As I went through this novel, I couldn't help but think of it as the slightly more shy older brother of Stephen King's The Shining. Similar set up, similar situations at times. The difference is, as good as Burnt Offerings is, it feels like King read it, then thought, it's good, but it could be better.

But though this has a lighter touch, and only scratches the surface where King's follow-up dug deep, it's still a great read, with excellent writing. In fact, I'd say King took some cues when it came to dialogue as well. If someone told me this was an early King novel, up until about halfway, I'd believe them.

Great novel. ( )
1 vota TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
Overall, I really enjoyed this book - Marasco did an excellent job building tension and creating atmosphere. Great listen! ( )
  tattooedreader13 | Aug 27, 2020 |
"Burnt Offerings" is nineteen-seventies classic horror. It's not in a hurry, It's not looking for the quick spike of fear that comes from slash-and-splash action. It's a slow burn read designed to build the kind of terror that comes from extended exposure to a threat you can't name, that you may even blame yourself for and which you can't escape.

Marasco takes a relatively normal domestic "What if?", adds an element of the supernatural and then unfolds events with dreadful implacability, leaving me feeling like I was watching flies struggling in the web of a spider that I hadn't yet seen. The "What if?" is: what if you had chance to have your dream house but the price was putting your marriage under strain and leaving you with no energy left over to do anything else? Would you pay the price? Would it be worth it? Could you NOT pay the price once you've started?

I suspect that, if this were being converted to a movie today, there would be a rush to get the young family to the haunted house so bad things could start to happen before people lose interest. Marasco goes a different route. He makes the oppression of living in a crowded, noisy apartment block in Queens in the summer heat and humidity come alive. He gives us time to look at wife and husband and to see how they are alone and apart. This achieves two things: it makes the decisions each of them make later more believable and it lays the foundation for believing that what befalls them is, somehow, their own fault.

When we finally get to the huge, remote house in up-State New York that the couple is thinking of renting for the summer, there is a strong sense of threat being masked in the same way that a spicy sauce is used to hide the tainted meat it covers. The masking is done partly by the weirdly charismatic Alerdices, who own the house but the couple themselves actively collude in not seeing anything wrong.

As the reader, hearing the Alerdices say that the house will be rented to "The right people'" felt like a doom or a curse, as if they were identifying "the right people" the same way that a predator uses the barely-there-but-bound-to-get-worse lameness to mark one of the herd as prey.

To me, the rental house seems a twist on the fairy tale gingerbread house: part lure, part trap. The Alerdices, brother and sister, seem at first to be the wicked witch, yet something speaks to priest or acolyte which opens the question of who or what is being worshipped.

Yet the Alerdices do not force the house on this couple. The wife lusts after it, not just blind but antagonistic to any suggestion of a problem. The husband senses the taint of something rotten beneath the surface but will not stand behind his judgement. If the house is a trap then these two have chosen to ensnare themselves. This self-ensnarement provides an element of guilt that will make them distrust themselves and each other and which made me less sympathetic to them.

As time goes by and various spooky, tension-inducing things happen, I found myself starting to dislike both the husband and the wife. They were never particularly engaging but I could feel the best parts of them leaching away like topsoil in a rainstorm, as they came under the influence of the house. I think the power of Marasco's writing is shown by how my perceptions as the reader where manipulated, letting me slide from being neutral about this couple at the start of the novel to experiencing a kind of grim schadenfreude-driven satisfaction at what happens to them at the end.

I won't give away what happens. The ending was not a surprise but that amplified rather than reduce the level of horror.

I listened to the audiobook, read by R.C Bray, who I always think of as having a "Joe Friday" voice although his range is much broader than that. He's the perfect choice for this low key but relentless horror story. ( )
2 vota MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
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One of the scariest haunted house novels ever written, "Burnt Offerings" chronicles the story of Ben and his family renting a house out in the New York countryside, and the horror that unfolds there. Contains new artwork, film stills, reproductions of movie posters, and more.

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