David is a good dad. He loves his kids and remembers his dead wife lovingly. For thirty years David has been living his life in spite of the horrific memories from his childhood. A widower with four kids going to visit a place where they feel safe, surrounded with goodness and love from grandma and grandpa.
David’s family is a good one. His childhood memories with his parents are loving but the horror that plagues him isn’t really his family’s fault, not in his adult mind or how he remembers it. The story begins as he takes his children back to where all the horror began. David being the good dad that he is would never have returned if he only knew the events that were about to unfold. He would have never put his family in the middle of that kind of hell.
Everyone is happy to be visiting Grandma’s house where both grandparents live a down to earth life waiting with all the family joy they can offer to their grand kids and to David. They arrive and everything seems fine until a stranger shows up. This is where I just knew something bad was about to happen. It is in the synopsis, but the story absolutely parts the waters and I could feel it! What then takes place, things that are remembered and all that is revealed is a fantastical terrorizing event that horror fans love. I sure did!
A town or a neighborhood, basically in a swamp with those living there think little about alligator eyes in the water. The story builds with a creepy dark setting in the south and images came to my mind of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That sort of crazy fright is riddled in this telling while keeping some sort of wholesome style, at least in the beginning. And let me be clear, this story has horrific scenes, murder, blood and gore. There is just a certain charm from the start that gave me some sort of comfort and I settled in.
While this is absolutely an adult read, the back story is that of a young version of the main character David and his best friend Andrea. Their relationship is fun but also depicts how victims of abuse cope, be it that of a serial killer or someone they love. The story continues to break from the present day back to David’s teen years as he relives some of the most gruesome and horrific scenes I’ve ever read.
I requested to listen to the audible for The House of Tongues especially for spooky season. While I had myself prepared for some dark happenings, I have to say I was not prepared for what happened. This story has a twist, one that broke my heart and tore at me in a sickening way. Horror fans will get it, why that is a good thing.
The dialogue is witty and snarky. Although listening became frightening, at times I did feel my face smiling. Before I knew it, I was all the way in, falling in love with everyone in this family. Any back story that needed to be told was told smoothly, weaving into present day. And, it was enjoyable learning about this family. The loss, the personalities and all the little details that painted a vivid picture of these characters. And, as scared as I became I also enjoyed the build, the suspense and the thrilling details.
The voice of Malcolm Hillgartner pulled me in and mesmerized me, keeping me attuned with what was happening, the surroundings, the feelings of the characters and their state of emotion. Everything worked exactly as it should, with no unwanted static or background sounds. The reading was clear and sharp. I absolutely loved listening to Malcolm Hillgartner and the telling of this incredible story.
Once the terror started though, it was extremely chilling and there were moments I had to turn it off and just catch my breath or settle my mind a little. There were a few scenes that were absolutely shocking and not for the faint of heart. I have not been this scared, or grossed out for that matter, in several years. I loved it!
*******May Be A Spoiler*********
I felt it was very interesting how David helped Andrea deal with her own issues with her father. By the end it’s clear just how sick David’s father really was, maybe, possibly worse than Anthony. The answer would depend on which one you asked. But the level of emotional abuse that is applied to the characters expresses another kind of message. And, straight away in the beginning, when David thinks back to the night in his room and the murder of his friend. The emotional brain freakery that took place was probably much worse on a living soul rather than being killed. Dead is dead but living with those kind of thoughts has to be hell. It just feels there is so much revolving around psychological torment and how survivors of abuse, any kind of abuse is a life of success just by staying alive.
My review is for the audible version that was barrowed from Netgalley for reviewing purposes.
The House of Tongues by James Dashner
Title : The House of Tongues
Author : James Dashner
Narrator : Malcolm Hillgartner
ASIN : B09K29LZPP
Audio Publisher : Tantor Audio
Audio Publication date : October 21, 2021
Book Publisher : Riverdale Avenue Books (October 20, 2021)
Book Publication date : October 20, 2021
Language : English
The House of Tongues by James Dashner
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The author of the New York Times best-selling Maze Runner series leads us on a dark journey of generational horror as we visit The House of Tongues.
David Player has spent 30 years trying to forget the traumas of his childhood. The threats, the kidnappings, the murders. The imagined curses of a people born centuries earlier, passed from father to son, mother to daughter, generation to generation. Its climax came in human form, a monster of a man, one of the most notorious serial killers the nation has ever seen: Pee Wee Gaskins.
And Gaskins had a particular hatred for the Player family, then for David, himself, who barely escaped those years with his own life intact.
Now David is back, his four children in tow, visiting his parents’ home, a place he has learned to cherish despite the evils that haunted his younger days. But no sooner does he return than a stranger visits their doorstep, the son of Pee Wee Gaskins. In a terrifying display, right in front of the kids, the man utters threats until he chokes on his own tongue, sparking a series of events that drag David and his family back into the days of curses and murders, onto a path of unimaginable terror, all too familiar.
That path leads to an old gothic tower in the woods, a place David had blocked from his memory, a house of horrors both past and present. The House of Tongues.