Top critical review
Redundant first 3/4, good ending 1/4.
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2018
THE HOUSE OF LONG SHADOWS is Book 1 in the "House of Souls" series, by Ambrose Ibsen. Kevin Taylor is a man that fixes up houses on his Utube station. With his eye on a possible television deal, Taylor sets a lofty goal for himself--to completely renovate a derelict house into a move-in ready home, within the span of a mere thirty days. For only one-thousand dollars, number 889 Morgan Road belongs to him. While the fact that the entire neighborhood is abandoned--the other houses in varying states of decrepitude--doesn't phase Kevin, the reader immediately gets that "there is something seriously wrong with the fact that this house is still standing" vibe.
"Morgan Road and everything adjacent to it was practically a gangrenous limb . . . "
It starts, as the title points out, with an odd fixation on the shadows in the house: ". . . Shadows, even those of inanimate things, seemed unnaturally long . . ."
There are a few notable events, but other than those, I felt that the first three-quarters of this novel was basically continuous repetition. Shadows, drywall lectures, "something's creepy here, but I'll keep doing the exact same things anyway", and Kevin's back and forth thoughts of "I'm going to leave--No, I'm going to stay", was honestly all I got out of this part.
". . . I was completely sane, and that was the problem . . . "
The main issue, for myself, was that this story had fantastic potential and the perfect atmosphere, but I couldn't connect to the main character at all. He had a few topics that he would talk to himself about, but after what felt like the hundredth time that he filmed himself discussing the drywall and "good bones" of the house, my attention had seriously waned.
"I looked up at the camera with all the enthusiasm of an amateur magician who'd gotten puked on by one too many kids at a birthday party . . . "
Towards the very end, the story got much more complicated and original. If the entire story had been focused on those aspects, this could have been an outstanding novel, in my mind. Unfortunately, the really interesting and creepy moments only took up approximately 15% towards the end.
". . . I thoughtfully considered the possibility that my house was haunted."
Overall, I feel that the first three-quarters of the book sabotaged the unique additions that came after. Had I been able to even remotely connect and feel for Kevin, this could have had left a more powerful impression. As it is, it felt like a lot of unnecessary filler before getting to anything more engrossing.
". . . I'd run out of f---s to give . . . "