Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Ben and Marian Rolfe are desperate to escape a stifling summer in their tiny Brooklyn apartment, so when they get the chance to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire summer for only $900, it's an offer that's too good to refuse. There's only one catch: behind a strange and intricately carved door in a distant wing of the house lives elderly Mrs. Allardyce, and the Rolfes will be responsible for preparing her meals.
But Mrs. Allardyce never seems to emerge from her room, and it soon becomes clear that something weird and terrifying is happening in the house. As the suspense builds toward a revelation of what really lies behind that locked door, the Rolfes will discover that their cheap vacation rental comes at a terrible cost....
The basis for a classic 1976 film adaptation and an acknowledged influence on Stephen King's The Shining, Burnt Offerings is one of the most original and scariest haunted house novels ever written. This edition, the first in decades, features a new introduction by award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 45 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 25, 2016|
|Publisher||Blue Heron Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #16,175 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#426 in Classic Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#742 in Horror Fiction
#1,422 in Classic Literature & Fiction
Top reviews from the United States
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First, I know it was written in 1972, when you could get by on one income, but the math does NOT hold up. They can raise a kid on one high school teacher's salary WITHOUT his needing to work every summer, with Marian only taking temp jobs to pay for luxuries?? And when they decide to look at summer homes, the price of (mild spoiler, sorry) $900 for two months is AFFORDABLE for them? Sure, it is a lot of house for the price, but that's like $5000 in 2019 money! Do you know any high school teachers who can pay that without wrecking their budget? The reader is asked to squander far too much suspension of disbelief on this nonsense far too early in the book, and for no good reason.
A less economic concern was the just-often-enough-to-bug-me moments where the point of view migrates from one character's thoughts to another and back again within the same scene. That's usually the sign of an inexperienced and untaught writer. In this case, it became less frequent as the book went on, leading me to think it may instead have been a case of a competent enough writer leaving his writing too close to a deadline and failing to go back and fix his own simple mistakes. Frustrating, that--it is a quite decent book as it stands and I can't help but wonder how much better it could have been if he had turned in a third draft instead of the first.
Another irritant was the author's constant use of "instinctively" when he means "without clear reason or planning," an action based on unanalysed motives, sure, but NOT an actual instinct (of which humans have very few, mostly concerned with startle responses to loud noises or sudden drops, that sort of thing). It's a common error, sadly, but this author does it several times per chapter! Lazy and repetitive as well as incorrect. Quite grating.
The other irritants were smaller still, nearly humorous. While the novel managed not to read as dated in any of the ways I had expected (impressive considering it was written in 1972!) some details revealed that it was obviously written by a man in an era where they did none of the housework! Marian would NEVER blow soot off the windowsill; it would spread everywhere. Anyone who had been cleaning the same apartment for nine years would KNOW that and would use a damp rag instead. I also have doubts about two quarts of milk lasting a week for four people, but who knows? Maybe they aren't fond of dairy.
All that being said, everything else about the book was completely perfect. Utterly terrifying, only a touch predictable (likely because I read too much in this genre), and there were moments even so that managed to give me a case of the heebie jeebies. Definitely worth the Kindle price (eight bucks, I think?). Glad I gave it a chance!
This book is well written, with building (note pun) suspense, and a quick satisfying read. Disturbing in the best way, this won't have you checking under your bed, but it will make you think twice about your next rental! Enjoyable from beginning to end, this book is a statement to a great plot and writing featuring a true horror story without gore, vampires or zombies. A scantily clad girl, in high heels for no reason, running away from obvious safety can only be featured so many times before it gets old. You will find solid, plot driven, story telling at it's best here. Some things never get old.
This book is the story of a young family, not in deep trouble at the beginning of the novel but definitely not idyllic. Looking to find a getaway from the noise and heat of the city, they find a deal too good to be true in a secluded country mansion. The price is low enough they can afford, and the only catch is there are some rather unusual caretaker duties. Tension mounts as the house literally comes to life with the infusion of energy of the young family staying within it.
_Burnt Offerings_ is well written and builds suspense as a slow burn. In places I think it does get a little repetitive and I found myself less anxious for the next chapter and more wanting to get on with it. I did like the pacing through the “ok, things are all going to hell now” part of the book, but felt the ending was a little abrupt. It was a hard ending to pull off, though; so, I’m not entirely sure how it could have been better.
I strongly recommend you rad this if you’re a fan of _The Shining_. The influence is unmistakeable and it’s very interesting to see the choices King made when he more or less rewrote this novel in his own image, as well as the difference in tone and type of horror the two novels evoke.
Top reviews from other countries
The owners, Roz and Arnold, also known as Brother, Allardyce, are strange, to say the least, not to mention the creepy handyman/chauffeur. Ben is less than enthusiastic at the prospect of being responsible for the senior Mrs Allardyce, and who would leave their elderly mother in the care of strangers anyway? But he can see Marian has her heart set on it so they, along with their son, David, and Aunt Elizabeth, move into the house. It’s obvious all is not as it seems, there’s a weird and frightening feeling about the place which grows inexorably, and a nightmarish situation develops as the house begins to regenerate.
The book is new to me and I didn’t realise it was first released in the early 70’s, neither have I seen the 1970s film based on the book. It’s been given a new lease of life with kindle and paperback editions released last year and an audio version this year. The narrative is a little dated but taking into consideration the book is 40+ years old, it’s a really good ‘evil/haunted house’ story. The horror is of the Gothic type, stealthy and subtle, no blood or gore, building slowly, steadily and menacingly to the inevitable and dreadful climax.
The scene is set with the Rolfe’s uncomfortable living conditions in the city, and the family dynamics. Marian is manipulative, and petulant when she doesn’t get her own way, and seems to be motivated by the thought, and acquisition, of possessions which they can’t really afford. Ben mostly goes along with want she wants because he loves her. Occasionally, because of this, he comes across as weak but even so, I much preferred him to Marian. Aunt Elizabeth is a great character with lots of personality. The story is chilling, descriptive and atmospheric with a very enjoyable writing style.
Another great narration by RC Bray. He gives the characters distinct voices and emotions, adding to the overall mood and enjoyment of the story.
I had a lot of fun visualising this story as I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Definitely recommend if you’re looking for something to shake you up in the middle of the night. Bravo.