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The Unseen

de Alexandra Sokoloff

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2511381,409 (3.58)35
A terrifying novel of suspense based on the Rhine parapsychology experiments at Duke University After experiencing a precognitive dream that ends her engagement and changes her life forever, a young psychology professor from California decides to get a fresh start by taking a job at Duke University in North Carolina. She soon becomes obsessed with the files from the world-famous Rhine parapsychology lab experiments, which attempted to prove ESP really exists. Along with a handsome professor, she uncovers troubling cases, including one about a house supposedly haunted by a poltergeist, investigated by another research team in 1965. Unaware that the entire original team ended up insane or dead, the two professors and two exceptionally gifted Duke students move into the abandoned mansion to replicate the investigation, with horrifying results. The Unseen is Alexandra Sokoloff's most thrilling novel to date: a story of deception, attraction, and the unknown.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 13 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Newly arrived at Duke University, a psychiatry professor becomes interested in the files of the world-famous parapsychology lab, which was abruptly shut down 40 years ago following a mysterious experiment. She decides to investigate and ends up helping to re-create the experiment in a strange house in the rural North Carolina pine country, which unleashes a ghost or evil spirit or madness or something.

Not enough scares and took too long to get going. The paranormal investigators only just arrive at the haunted house halfway through the house. There is also a romance angle that I felt detracted from the story. We never did find out who Laurel had hot sex with in that kind of disgusting 'it's rape but it's a dream and anyway I like it' scene. The house itself was cool, but the suspense failed to build, and the ending was muddled and anti-climactic. Not a great example of the haunted house genre, although not terrible either -- just forgettable. I mainly kept reading because of the North Carolina angle. ( )
  sturlington | Mar 30, 2016 |
"It is a mistake to think that you know. It will not be known." But that doesn't get Sokoloff off the hook entirely.

The Unseen borrows generously from The Haunting of Hill House, doing little justice to either the heroine (who is feckless and tiresome throughout) or the location (a back story in tatters without respect for the house as either character or basis.) If you skip the first 30 chapters, the end of the book pays off nicely, though without real resolution. ( )
  Lemeritus | Mar 10, 2016 |
An excellent book marred only by a weak ending. ( )
  JessPeacock | Oct 29, 2015 |
Ghost stories must be very difficult to write. The author must tread a fine line to make his story both believable and atmospheric. Most stories fail in some way or another, but the very few that succeed make the hunt for a good one worthwhile.

The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff started slowly as main character, Lauren, a psychology professor abandons her life in California and moves to North Carolina, taking up a position at Duke University. The catalyst for the abrupt changes she has made in her life was a precognitive dream that she is still having. Wanting to know more about parapsychology, she and handsome Professor Brady form a small study group to replicate a study that was conducted at an old mansion in 1965. There are few records about this experiment as something went terribly wrong and the whole program was shut down and the records were sealed until just recently.

The premise took awhile to set up, but then the story did pick up in the middle of the book and once the study group moved into the old house, the atmosphere turned dark and spooky. Unfortunately the characters were rather one dimensional and the conflict between them was a little overdone. As the book continued I eventually got rather annoyed as the characters got sillier and the story seemed to break down in a meaningless muddle. Unfortunately The Unseen was just another mediocre ghost story. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Oct 11, 2015 |
I'm a ghost story junkie with high expectations, so I was a little surprised not only to discover how much I adored this book, but how I had gone for so long without hearing about Alexandra Sokoloff in the first place.

My immediate impression was that this book updated Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House for a modern audience. Laurel, the protagonist, is still reeling from a sudden break-up with her fiance and is struggling to fit in as a psychology professor at Duke University. After a short time, she stumbles across hundreds of research materials from the now-defunct Rhine Parapsychology Lab, which operated out of Duke University in the 1960's and was suddenly dismantled in 1965. The more Laurel investigates the events around the lab's final experiment in 1965, the more she realizes that something very unsettling happened, with everything centered around the mysterious Folger House - a sprawling, off-kilter mansion that seems as though it was spawned by Jackson's Hill House. With the assistance of her colleague, Brandon, and two psychically gifted college students, the four of them rent out the Folger House and investigate the supposed poltergeist phenomenon in the house. The reigning theory is that poltergeist infestations are a direct result of human psychic energy, but the more time Laurel spends in the house, the more she believes that something more supernatural and ominous is at work here.

I don't usually spend this much time on plot summary, but this really illustrates why I loved the book so much. The scientific study of ghosts and paranormal phenomenon is a fairly common theme in horror culture, but it doesn't always ring true. I loved that this book and the experiment described inside were actually based on historical events - the Rhine Parapsychology Lab was an actual organization operating out of Duke University, and they attempted to scientifically quantify psychic abilities in participants. This made the story seem much more realistic.

But inside the Folger House, there is something much more insidious roaming the halls, and the house itself actually becomes the antagonist. I love, love, love stories that can personify a house and turn it into a malevolent force, and this book hit all the right notes. If I compared this book to a horror movie, I'd say it's a good blend between The Haunting and Poltergeist.

This was a slower, more measured kind of horror, since the investigative team doesn't even reach the Folger House until two-thirds into the book. But by the time the house starts manifesting, you'll be hard pressed to put this book down.

This is a great option for readers who like unease and suspense more than outright terror, or who prefer bloodless horror stories.

Recommended for fans of: ghost stories, horror with a more measured pace, suspenseful but not terrifying stories.

Readalikes: I've already mentioned The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson as a good readalike, but here are a few others with a slower and more subtle build-up of horror.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. This short novel has all the touches of a classic English ghost story - misty moors, an abandoned mansion, a superstitious small town, and a vengeful ghost. The slow, atmospheric buildup makes this a good reading suggestion for people who don't consider themselves horror fans!

The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters. A doctor has been summoned to Hundreds Hall to care for a patient, but when he arrives, he finds himself tangled up in the lives of the Ayres family members, as well as the supernatural presence in the home. This story straddles the line between horror and literary suspense, but fans of The Unseen will likely appreciate the slow build-up of suspense and the subtle supernatural elements.

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James. A governess has been hired to care for two orphans living with their uncle in a remote country estate. The governess is soon disturbed by what she thinks are the ghosts of two evil servants who used to work in the house, but are they really ghosts, or just a figment of her imagination? ( )
  coloradogirl14 | Oct 31, 2013 |
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For my partner, Michael Bradshaw, and my father, Alexander Sokoloff: both perfect blends of the scientific and the supernatural
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The hall ahead is dark, a tunnel of black.
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(Clica-hi per mostrar-ho. Compte: pot anticipar-te quin és el desenllaç de l'obra.)
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A terrifying novel of suspense based on the Rhine parapsychology experiments at Duke University After experiencing a precognitive dream that ends her engagement and changes her life forever, a young psychology professor from California decides to get a fresh start by taking a job at Duke University in North Carolina. She soon becomes obsessed with the files from the world-famous Rhine parapsychology lab experiments, which attempted to prove ESP really exists. Along with a handsome professor, she uncovers troubling cases, including one about a house supposedly haunted by a poltergeist, investigated by another research team in 1965. Unaware that the entire original team ended up insane or dead, the two professors and two exceptionally gifted Duke students move into the abandoned mansion to replicate the investigation, with horrifying results. The Unseen is Alexandra Sokoloff's most thrilling novel to date: a story of deception, attraction, and the unknown.

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