cover image How to Sell a Haunted House

How to Sell a Haunted House

Grady Hendrix. Berkley, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-20126-8

Grief, generational trauma, and some sinister puppets animate this wildly entertaining haunted house tale from bestseller Hendrix (Final Girl Support Group). Hyper-competent single mother Louise Joyner and her estranged layabout brother, Mark, come together in the wake of their parents’ death, a reunion that consists largely of miscommunicating, airing simmering resentments, and bickering over their parents’ estate. Their Charleston childhood home was left to Mark, but their mother’s extensive puppet collection and whimsically creepy artworks went to Louise, meaning they’ll have to work together to clear the house out before selling it. After chapters of weird vibes and possibly moving dolls, it’s both refreshing and hilarious when the siblings get a realtor to the house and she frankly declares, “Your house is haunted and I’m not selling it until you deal with that.” Mark accepts the haunting as fact immediately, while Louise refuses to believe in the supernatural, even when the evidence is right in front of her. Hendrix does a fantastic job shading the sibling relationship, making the love, pain, and fundamental misunderstandings between them clear even before their intense backstory is revealed. The blurring of the supernatural and the psychological, meanwhile, is an effective engine for both suspense and humor on the way to a bloody confrontation. This is a gem. (Jan.)