The Perfectly Fine House by Stephen Kozeniewski and Wile E. Young

The Perfectly Fine House by Stephen Kozeniewski and Wile E. Young
Publisher: Grindhouse Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In an alternate reality where ghosts are as commonplace as the weather, the most terrifying thing imaginable is a house not being haunted.

Donna Fitzpatrick runs a surrogacy agency, where ghosts can briefly possess volunteers in order to enjoy carnal pleasures. She’s also working herself into an early grave. But that’s no big deal because death is no worse than puberty. That’s particularly evident in Donna’s twin, Kyle, a self-absorbed roustabout who spends most of his time high on sage. Kyle’s been in arrested development since his motorcycle accident fifteen years ago.

When Donna has a panic attack, Kyle insists she take a vacation at an abandoned mansion. There’s just one small problem: there isn’t a single ghost in Jackson Manor. And while an unhaunted house seems no worse than an oddity at first, soon ghosts go missing, natural disasters consume entire cities, and every afterlife on earth is threatened by the terrible secret behind . . .
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Who says that ghosts have to be scary?

This novel included a large, colorful cast of characters. I had a little trouble keeping track of who everyone was and how they knew each other in the beginning, so I’m glad the narrator occasionally reminded the audience of those connections. Rereading them when they popped up again helped me remember who everyone was until my brain could do it automatically. It was satisfying to get about fifty pages into it and suddenly realize that I had those relationships all figured out.

There were a few things about the ending that I wish had been better explained. This was especially true when it came to how the discovery of the house that wasn’t haunted led to other revelations about this world. As fascinated as I was by how the rules of this universe seemed to be quickly shifting, it would have been helpful to have a little more time spent explaining why and how they were changing. I’m saying this as a reader who was deeply invested in this storyline and these characters. If the ending had been as well developed as the beginning and middle, I would have easily felt comfortable giving this a five star rating.

The world building was thoughtful and complex. Mr. Kozeniewski and Mr. Young clearly thought through all of the social, legal, and cultural changes that would come about if everyone knew that ghosts exist and that they would become a ghost when they died. I was intrigued by how humanity had changed as a result of their knowledge of what the afterlife was like.

The Perfectly Fine House kept me guessing from the first scene to the last one. I’d especially recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal tales.

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