Reviewed by Amy Sondova
Homemade Haunting by Rob Stennett
"Stennett is an excellent writer, but Homemade Haunting lacks a gripping plot."
What would it profit a man if
he writes the world’s best horror
novel, but loses his own soul? That is the question that Rob Stennett tackles
in his latest Christian suspense novel, Homemade Haunting.
Charlie Walker has two questions—does God exist? Does Satan exist? Unbeknownst to Charlie, he is about to have a supernatural encounter. Quitting his job as a high school English teacher, Charlie moves his wife and two kids into an 80’s deco rental house and sets to work writing the most gripping horror novel the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, Charlie lacks real-life experiences to make a horror novel truly horrific, so he decides to buy a Ouija board for research purposes.
Soon Charlie and eventually his wife, start to hear things, see things, and experience creepy things, all of which drive Charlie’s novel forward…but at what cost? Charlie begins to realize that playing with the occult is dangerous and promises to give it all up once he finishes his book. The problem is that it might be too late for his wife, Rachel, who has become fully immersed in the dark side.
The book is smartly written in the tongue-in-cheek style readers have come to love from Stennett, but it lacks substance. One would expect a book called “Homemade Haunting” to be spooky, but much of the book lacked anything truly scary. While the full-fledged demon-possession of Charlie’s wife was creepy, many of the other incidents in the book were run-of-the-mill—nightmares, ghostly writing on a foggy mirror, objects moving, and sounds of things that go thump in the night. Despite knowing the dangers after being warned by his Christian neighbor and his guardian angel, Gabriel, Charlie continues down the path of darkness for the sake of his book, putting the lives of his family on the line. The more Charlie seeks out scary experiences, the more enmeshed he becomes with the occult. Yet the whole time Charlie thinks he is in control of the spirits, of his book, of his life, yet he is not.
During the first three-quarters of the book, the reader is waiting for something to happen, and when it does, it seems over-the-top. For example, when Charlie is talking to his demon-possessed wife, she has already downed a full bottle of prescription pills and is cutting her arms with an Exacto knife. Perhaps Stennett wants to show that many occult experiences start with Ouija boards and party games—things that don’t seem that serious, yet these experiences open a door to Satan and his demons. Once the door is open, it is terribly hard to shut, especially for someone like Charlie, who isn’t sure God exists.
Clearly, Stennett makes a statement about faith and belief while telling a quirky story. I liked the quirks, but I didn’t like the story. Stennett is an excellent writer, but Homemade Haunting lacks a gripping plot.
Amy Sondova is a writer specializing in media writing, including interviews and reviews, as well as blogging. Having interviewed over 30 of the top musicians, writers, and speakers in the Christian media, Amy has also written countless columns, reviews, and articles on various topics including mental illness, self-injury, working with teenagers, and Christianity. As well as holding a B.A. in communications, Amy holds a M.A. in biblical counseling, and has worked as a professional therapist. You can visit Amy’s online playground at BackseatWriter.com which offers a combination interviews, reviews, personal columns, and photography.