Monday, 5 September 2016

'The House on Cobb Street'

Sorry for no review yesterday, I was out with friends getting drunk.

The third story from Lynda E. Rucker's new collection takes a new approach to the traditional haunted house story. This is quite an achievement, but it works. Reversing the usual approach, 'The House on Cobb Street' offers a plethora of 'factual' information on the haunting and its victim, but the more the various authorities provide the less clear it what really happened. And this uncertainty is, Rucker makes clear, part of the nature of the haunting itself.

'You succumbed to a kind of learned helplessness that convinced you the veil between the worlds had been pulled back and you could not escape; wherever you went, you would always be haunted.'
'You entered into an abusive relationship with a haunted house.'

That is the narrator, Vivian's, explanation for the obvious plot-hole in so many stories/movies. Why don't they just leave? Because they can't. Not because the house is physically preventing them (though that sometimes works) or because they've sunk so much money into a fixer-upper (though again, people are crazy that way) but because they are possessed by the haunting.

In this case Vivian can't leave the Cobb Street House despite the strongest evidence that its paranormal presence is malign. But then there's a twist, as rival investigators begin to question whether Vivian ever lived in the house at all.

Structurally this is a tricky one to pull off, but I think it works.

1 comment:

James Everington said...

I loved this one when I first read it - looking forward to reading it again in Lynda's collection, as I think it's a tale that will definitely bring rewards to a careful rereading...