I think I’m getting the hang of how a Bentley Little horror book works like by now. Unsuspecting family moves to a desert city in Arizona. Freaky stuff starts happening and people die. Entire families. There are several protagonists and there is a mythical monster of ye olden times involved.
Add in a dash of other cultures (Mexican, Chinese, Russian) and an old lady who has the key to it all. Final boss battle ensues. Many die. Evil is exorcised! Pepper the story with violence, carnage, incest and rape and you have yourself a Bentley Little story!
The “Guests” story is the last one I bought in a pack and it follows the recipe to the dot. A family wins the lottery and they move back to the home town located in Arizona where they buy a house and decide to live peacefully away from L.A. (Who in their right minds would move to hick county after winning the lottery?! Who would move to any place before scouting the area, renting maybe for a few months to see how the city is like and how the people behave?! but hey, that’s just my first frown on this book).
So they move to this armpit of the world with their Russian grandmother and three kids. They seem to have a functioning family – until the lack of a purpose and the lack of communication seems to drive them into different directions. The guy decides to invest into his friend’s business, the wife decides to get involved into the community, the grandma feels at home in the local church. Kids take on new personalities to match the new village.
Things start going wrong when the wife notices that the ladies that run the library are wackos thinking that the government is hiding a conspiracy about a meteor hitting the earth soon. And that their opinion is shared by other members of the small village. The young teenage daughter falls in with the wrong crowd and pretty soon starts whoring around just to be cool (getting raped and beaten in the process) and the other two kids don’t fare so well either after going inside the a banya they find on the local grounds.
The banya is like a bath-house where the Russians would go and sweat out after a long day outside. Like a sauna. But the one the kids find has loads of shadows and possibly ghosts lurking around, loads of bones and pretty soon starts to attract the kids from the neighbourhoods and whisper into the ever listening ear of the couple’s youngest child. The child brings the banya a dead bird, some chipmunks and even kills a cat she finds. The child draws the line into bringing the banya one of the girls that torment and bully her at school and suspects that there’s an evil influence brainwashing them.
What really, really weirded me out was that the middle child, the boy, started developing an indecent incestuous attraction to his own older sister and goes as far as fantasising about intercourse with her and using some of her used panties as stimulants when masturbating.. I was at this stage more grossed out than I was in the “houses” book when the 10-year old was asking for intercourse.
The cafe refurbishing is finished and the husband finds himself drifting away from his wife, dreaming of a younger girl who would pay attention to him, someone new and exciting to share his time with. This pointlessness of his life drives him to ignore his children and even purchase a gun. I was suspecting this was going to turn into another “Amitiville Horror” and I wasn’t wrong about that!
The book brings together the oppression of the Molokans (a Russian religious group who believed in pacifism and the Bible), the lynchings that took place in the same village when their grandma was a child and the possibility that a Russian House Protector was the origin of all the evil stuff that was going on in the village.
At this point, I asked myself why hadn’t the Grandma intervened when they were discussing moving to Arizona and told them it’s a place with a lot of recent dark history, a place where mobs were formed quickly driven by the lack of intelligence of the village inhabitants and a place without a cinema should not be considered for a permanent place to stay 🙂
The book goes full Amitiville when the dad beats up the wife, goes on shooting his teenage daughter and gets killed by his own mother because he was about to go on a shooting spree and kill his wife and other people.
What I found really hypocritical was that the wife, even after being saved by the quick-thinking of the mother-in-law, still blames her for the death of her abusive husband. WTF..
I think the book had some good bits (I had no idea what Molokans were before this, and I did learn a few things about house spirits) but the bad bits were a lot more numerous and repetitive.. this is going to the burn pile.