The House Next
By Ann Rivers Siddons
The House Next Door
is a haunted house story. There are lots of those, I know, but this one
is a little different. Usually in books the haunted house is an old
house—a house where people have lived and died, or perhaps been
murdered. It is, in short, a house with a bad history. The house in
this story is not an old house. In fact, at the beginning of the book,
it has not even been built. The other unusual thing about The House Next Door
is there are no ghosts in it. The house in question has an intelligence
in it—an evil and very greedy intelligence—but there are no ghosts or
old, Indian burial grounds; the evil in this story comes from the house
The story is told in the first person, from the point of view of a lady
called Colquitt Kennedy who is refreshingly down to earth and
unpretentious. Colquitt and her husband, Walter, live in what she
describes as a good house, but not a grand one and it is in a better
neighbourhood than they can really afford because the down payment on
the house was a wedding gift from her parents.
The Kennedys have two cats, but no children, but they are a happy
couple, content in their lives and with each other's company. They even
enjoy their jobs. The only problem in their lives is the house next
door and the things it does to the people who live there.
At the beginning of the book there is an empty lot between the Kennedys
and the Swansons. It is a peculiar shape, with a ridge on it and a
creek running through it. Because of this no architect has been able to
build there and the Kennedys and the Swansons have both enjoyed it as
an area of natural beauty between the two houses. Then one day Claire
Swanson tells Colquitt that someone is going to build a house on the
Buddy and Pie Harralson are a young couple. Buddy has a good career in
the making and Pie has daddy's money behind her and the makings of a
baby inside her. They are young and happy and they have found a
brilliant young architect, Kim Dougherty, to build their dream house.
Kim is a genius and this will be his first house, but what a house it
will be! The plans alone are enough to impress Colquitt. They show a
house that seems to grow from the ground and blend with the landscape
to become part of it rather than to intrude on it. It is a house so
magnificent that she cannot imagine the human hands and machinery that
will be able to form it.
Colquitt's honest awe at the plans before her is enough to start a
friendship between the young architect and the Kennedy's and Kim's true
brilliance is enough for the Kennedy's to reciprocate that friendship.
Even while the house is being built though, there are strange
occurrences. Many dead animals are found on the site and then something
rather nasty happens to Pie's puppy, but that is nothing when compared
to what happens to Pie herself, who takes a fall on the site and
miscarries her child. She and Buddy are still young and healthy though,
so there is no reason why they cannot try again.
The Harralson's stay in their dream home doesn't last past the
housewarming party, where a lot of unpleasant things happen. None of
these things seem at all sinister or connected to the house at the
time; it is only later on that Colquitt begins to realize that evil
forces are at work.
The next family to move into the house are the Sheehans and, once
again, their problems seem to be totally separate from the house. The
same might be said for the Greene's but, it is what happens to them
that finally spurs Colquitt and Walter into action.
The House Next Door
is 346 pages long and is one of the most enjoyable books I have had in
a long time. It is a scary story, but it is also, in many ways, a very
sad story because the house destroys so many lives, including Colquitt
and Walter's, who had been so content with their lot before the house