That was the only reaction I could muster after reading Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good scary story…but those tales that get under your skin, that creep and crawl and grab you in your sleep, those stories freak the shizz out of me…and Haunted is filled with 23 of them.
A group of writers from all walks of life answer an ad headlined, “Artists Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months”. Asked to leave behind all the distractions of real life that are preventing them from finishing their masterpiece, this group of lively individuals are led to an abandoned theater, utterly isolated from the rest of the world.
Each character shares the spotlight, as we learn more about the misfits that make up this motley crew. Interwoven in the plot are the stories of the writers, inspired and motivated by their own dire situation. Getting more and more gruesome as their story unfolds, these stories will haunt your dreams. They will make you laugh, make you cringe, and, in some cases, will completely blow your mind (the first story was enough to make me never want to go in a public pool ever again. EVER).
It doesn’t take long for the writers to engage in the ultimate competition of epic storytelling. In an effort to beat out their fellow wordsmiths, writers cause harm to themselves and others and aid in making their situation unlivable, all for the most inspiring story. The line between fact and fiction becomes blurred as each writer tries to make him or herself the hero of, what they all assume to be, a bigger production.
Despite its gory plot, Haunted is actually a very well written and innovative book. Characters are referred to by nicknames, giving us a very detailed description of what everyone looks like. And each chapter is broken into three parts:
- The plot, usually centered around one character at a time
- A descriptive poem about said character
- A story from said character
Breaking the book up in this way brings the reader right into the room with the characters, as the reader is just as clueless as to what is going on as the people within the story.
In my personal experience, this book is not a quick read, as I often had to stop reading and take a break to let my brain (and stomach) settle down. However, when I did jump into it, I easily plowed through large chunks at a time. As Pam Beesley said, “It’s like smashing a spider under a book. It’s gonna be really gross, but you have to look and make sure it’s really dead.”
Eerie, gory, and filled with raw human emotion, Haunted is a book that will rock you to your core.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.