Age of Consent

Howard Mittelmark, Author . Signet $6.99 (307p) ISBN 978-0-451-22057-8

Mittelmark's debut spins sizable doses of sexual grotesquerie into an otherwise derivative haunted-house yarn, in which vindictive spirits loose in a smalltown house coax a family into bizarre experiments with sex, drugs and self-mutilation. Ignoring the house's macabre history, the Coulter family moves in and is immediately possessed by ravenous carnal tendencies and violent erotic visions. As the professorial father obsesses over researching the house's legacy, son Peter sheds his teenage discomfiture and plunges uncharacteristically into high school romance and hardcore drugs. Meanwhile, his sister, always the popular girl, withdraws into depression and self-infliction, her only friend a shadowy stranger that lurks in her room. While Peter unravels his family's newfound woes and the house's sinister past, flashbacks reveal the drug-fueled tale of the Vietnam-era radicals who previously fell prey to the house's will. This shocker succeeds partially as a paranormal coming-of-age tale, akin to slasher-movie parables about the dangers of sex and drugs, and may appeal to teenagers looking for a quick and digestible genre exercise. However, seasoned horror fans and attentive readers will find little to sink their teeth into, as the cookie-cutter plot speeds toward a particularly banal conclusion. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/11/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
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