Book Review: House of Reckoning by John Saul

I love John Saul. I have been a fan since I was about eight years old and my sister and I snuck a copy of Suffer the Children from a friend’s house. I haven’t read anything by him in almost two years and so I thought I would choose something by him to vary the type of reviews I normally do. Long considered one of the world’s leading contenders in horror fiction, John is a true mastermind. This book in particular will clearly become one of my favorite reads.

In House of Reckoning Saul has taken several seemingly unrelated families and intertwined them into an intricate web of suspense, intrigue and mystery. His twisted sense of reality has long been a fascination of mine. This story has all the horrifying elements he is known for as well as the inane sense of right and wrong every tale of his contains. The character development was incredible and many times the pain and trauma they went through became your own. I was particularly intrigued by the characters of Sarah and Nick, the children who discover things about themselves they never dreamed possible. Against all odds, they develop a beautiful relationship with each other and with Bettina Phillips, an art teacher at their school. Sarah is a foster child because her mother has died and her father is put in prison for a bar brawl which resulted in a death. The foster family she is placed with are cruel and merciless. Sarah draws things she sees in her head. She believes them to be make-believe till the things she draws become true. Nick is the son of a prison guard at the place where Sarah’s father is incarcerated. Nick hears voices and everyone believes he is clinically insane, but what the voices tell him is true. Bettina’s house was once a mental institution run by her great, great, great grandfather and the voices that tell Nick what will happen and what to do, are the voices of the long dead patients of the institution who died at the hands of Dr. Phillips. They are also the muse’s so to speak that put the visions of what to draw in Sarah’s head.

There were many twists and turns in the story and the plot kept moving steadily along never missing a beat. There were times when I could feel a lump in my chest and my heartbeat quicken. As always, the shocking ending was laden with John’s sense of justice and his ability to make the punishment so incredibly apropos to the crime, that you feel a sense of vengeance when the tale has ended. This is an amazing story I would recommend to anyone who likes suspense, mystery or horror. It is all that and more rolled up into one neat little package. I am once again blown away by John Saul’s ability to make me forget I am reading a book.