The September House By Carissa Orlando-Summary
Goodreads summary of The September House by Carissa Orlando (non-spoiler review and quotes below):
A woman is determined to stay in her dream home even after it becomes a haunted nightmare in this compulsively readable, twisty, and layered debut novel.
When Margaret and her husband Hal bought the large Victorian house on Hawthorn Street—for sale at a surprisingly reasonable price—they couldn’t believe they finally had a home of their own. Then they discovered the hauntings. Every September, the walls drip blood. The ghosts of former inhabitants appear, and all of them are terrified of something that lurks in the basement. Most people would flee. Margaret is not most people.
Margaret is staying. It’s her house. But after four years, Hal can’t take it anymore, and he leaves abruptly. Now, he’s not returning calls, and their daughter Katherine—who knows nothing about the hauntings—arrives, intent on looking for her missing father. To make things worse, September has just begun, and with every attempt Margaret and Katherine make at finding Hal, the hauntings grow more harrowing because there are some secrets the house needs to keep.
The September House By Carissa Orlando – Review
Sorry. My review of The September House could not be a “five reasons to read”… review. There is too much to say about The September House, too much I can’t say because of spoilers. And too many ways I want to scream about it from the rooftops. However, I will try to keep myself from babbling as much as possible. Lastly, there are too many pulled quotes to include. I’ve never done this before- created pulled quote images for a review. Yes, for Teaser Tuesday/Thursday, but not to place within a review. Carissa Orlando deserves nothing less. Some quotes don’t even do themselves justice because the context isn’t there, and the tone might not come across. But I’m going to do my best.
Thank You to Berkley and Penguin RandomHouse Audio for an advanced Copy Of Carissa Orlando’s The September House.
At once, Carissa Orlando has written a novel that is poignant and quirky (oh, the dark humor) heartfelt horror novel that has a mystery to boot. To say The September House is genre-bending would be like saying the sun is hot. The September House isn’t just about the horror of what happens between the walls of Margaret’s dream house. It is about a family, trauma, and a relationship between a mother and daughter. It is about a relationship between a mother and daughter, reckoning with past and present horrors.
First, let’s start with the tone of The September House. Carissa Orlando has written multiple tones into this novel that work seamlessly. It has a bit of Beatle Juice quirkiness splashed in with deeply serious family trauma and horror scenes on an epic scale. The dark humor that runs through most of The September House can’t be confused with being silly. It is the result of Margaret’s stubborn need not to leave her dreamhouse, and therefore there are rules to follow, unique situations. And her perspective on it all is often hilarious. After all, perspective is everything. She often speaks about the horrors of the house as easily as announcing there is turkey for dinner.
Because who hasn’t prepared dinner with dead children around?
Margaret’s one friend, Edie, is often her voice of reason. She understands and is aware of the “pranksters (supernatural/ghostly beings)” and truly listens to her. When Katherine decides to come during September of all months to find her father, Edie responds with logic. She understands Margaret’s fears about Katherine handling the house’s personality and wanting Margret to move. Katherine’s arrival doesn’t stop the hilarity of Margaret’s perspective; it just complicates it. One person’s perspective is another person’s sign of mental decline. Carissa Orlando provides the best example of this when Katherine tries to give Margaret a cognitive test. And while it seems Margaret has no ability to answer any of the questions, Margaret just can’t concentrate because of… well, dead children.
The September House releases on September 5th, 2023.
Katherine’s arrival also begins to unfold the dynamic of her relationship with Margaret. Moreover, it starts unraveling the trauma of her childhood, the abuse Margaret suffered at Hal’s hands. I am very sensitive to these subjects when addressed. My father was an angry alcoholic, both verbally and physically abusive. However, Carissa Orlando writes it in ways that deeply affected me.
It brought me back to times when my mom asked me if I’d be mad if she left my father, and I told her not as long as she took me with her. It brings me back to what I know my mother did to protect my brother and me, and God knows what I don’t know she did. And, to the question at the heart of it all. Why do you put up with this? What took you so long to leave?
Do you see it now? Do you see what I’m saying about how Carissa Orlando writes The September House? It flips from dark humor and horror to emotional depths at the drop of a dime.
There is yet another rare and special quality to Carissa Orlando’s writing. The way she strings words together, her phrasing and her word choice match all the different tones and genres of The September House Perfectly. The cyclical way she utilizes phrases is perfect. A phrase is introduced (you don’t know it isn’t just an introduction at the time), then comes back around to hit on something completely different. It is a bullseye. Altogether, it is fitting to the plot and how the story is laid out.
There is quite a bit of gore (maybe more than horror) throughout The September House that is descriptive and gripping. The horror does come, though. And when it does, it hits hard. The thing is that none of these themes or genres overshadow another. Instead, they, simply put, harmonize together.
The last thing I can say is that the audiobook is excellent. Narrator Kimberly Farr is tremendous at hitting all the different notes. This is my first time hearing her, and I look forward to the next time I listen to her narrate.
I can honestly say that whether you like horror or not, The September House should make you look forward to the end of summer and the start of the spooky season.