Chris Sorenson’s “The Nightmare Room” is a tale about hardship, heartache, and haunted pasts.
Audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife, Hannah, return to Peter’s childhood town after their family is struck with tragedy. Upon their arrival, they discover that Peter’s ailing father, affectionately nicknamed Big Bear, had owned a house that they weren’t aware of. The Larsons move in to the rundown residence with the intention of fixing it up and making it their home. A fresh start to move beyond their pain. But dust and debris aren’t the only things waiting for them when they arrive, and it doesn’t take long before Peter realizes they aren’t alone.
Sorenson’s writing flows from the page and the pacing is done well. Descriptions were particularly notable, providing a solid sense of setting. I could clearly picture the old house, Big Bear, once friendly and formidable, now withered with age, the basement. Any scenes involving crows in particular had me cringing!
The story itself went beyond standard haunted house fare and provided an interesting twist on the usual tropes. The focus, while always surrounded by the supernatural, is always kept centered around character relationships and the ways in which people build each other up and break one another down.
I did have a nagging personal issue with the book, which was the characterization, particularly of the women. For most of the book, I felt like I knew very little about Hannah’s character beyond the fact that she was sexy. We are told she is strong and assertive and loving, but we don’t actually see much of these traits until much later in the book. I found Ellen Marx to be rather one dimensional and exactly what one might expect from a goth occult author character. Even Peter lost me a bit in the middle, when he is convinced that the house is evil and a threat to his wife, but refuses to speak to her about it. It made very little sense beyond being a horror cliche refusal to communicate.
Even with my gripe about the characters sometimes falling a little too neatly into their assigned roles, I would certainly recommend The Nightmare Room to fans of supernatural horror.