cover image The Residence

The Residence

Andrew Pyper. Skybound, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9821-4905-5

Pyper (The Homecoming) spins a fascinating horror novel centered on Franklin Pierce, the 14th U.S. President and one of the least effectual, proposing supernatural causes behind the man’s failure. Right after Franklin’s 1852 election, the death of his 11-year-old son, Bennie, in a train wreck sends Franklin’s wife, Jane, into a frenzy of mourning. Since her youth, Jane has been under the influence of “Sir,” a malignant, supernatural entity she accidentally summoned. Now she lives in the White House as a bitter recluse and establishes a private “Grief Room” where Bennie’s toys and clothing can be kept inviolate—and where a shadowy creature that looks like Bennie can gain substance as it feeds on her grief and love. Franklin, meanwhile, knows he should be working to hold the Union together but can’t find the gumption to stand firm. Pyper does a good job of haunting the White House but is less successful at incorporating the real historical horrors of slavery and the looming Civil War. History buffs might take issue with some of the minutiae, but this eerie ghost story is sure to please horror fans. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Sept.)