Monday, January 30, 2023

What not to read while dealing with an estate

 I ordered Grady Hendrix's How To Sell A Haunted House because I enjoy his fiction. Unfortunately, some of the subject matter cut a little close to the bone, which made getting through the first third a bit rough. 

We have Louise Joyner as our focus character, whom we meet right as she announces her pregnancy to her parents. She gives birth to Poppy, and five years later, both her parents die in a car accident. Which means going back to Charleston and dealing with her brother Mark. 

So, like I said, the first 1/3 of the book involves them trying to deal with funeral arrangements, dealing with the extended family, and the quite natural pettiness the two exhibit towards each other. I mean I could only aspire to the levels of just sheer petty these two get into, as we find out that since Mom died after Dad by a few minutes, her wishes get honored. Which means the estate goes to Mark, while Louise gets all of her art.(Like I said, this was touching my nerves, since, while my situation doesn't exactly mirror this set up, there were a lot of echoes.) 

So, we start getting inklings of what's going on as Mom's odd collections (she was a Christian Puppeteer, collected taxidermy and dolls) seemingly rearrange themselves in the house. Louise blames Mark, right up until the Nativity Squirrels attack. 

And then, oh lord, do things get moving. 

Much of the drama surrounds a puppet that comes off as Dunham's Peanut, only evil instead of dull. Pupkin, one of Mom's first dolls, who evidently inspires his wearers to do things like get people to drown, burn houses down, etc. (There's a few moments of how much of this is unresolved psychological trauma, but as Louise and Mark compare notes at Waffle House, it becomes clear that there's something very real there. Particularly when Pupkin starts attacking them in the house without a hand up his butt.)

Eventually, the extended family comes together to do an exorcism on the demon puppet, which leads into a moment of pure Hendrix, as Mark's atheism gets dismissed ("You're Presbyterian, just like your parents") to a debate on whether or not ghosts are demons. 

While the fantastical elements are well done, I still feel the reconciliation between siblings is the most far fetched thing in here. 

Enjoyable read. Just make sure you're not in a similar set up before reading.

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