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The Good House    by Tananarive Due order for
Good House
by Tananarive Due
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

In the summer of 2001, Angela Toussaint goes to her late grandmother's home in Sacajawea, Washington for her annual summer visit. For the past few years, her life has been falling apart. Her marriage has disintegrated and her teenage son Corey is living with her husband Tariq, who has a history of drug use. The ancestral home, known in the area as The Good House, has long been a place of peace and comfort to Angela. Unfortunately, on the fourth of July a tragedy occurs that turns her world upside down. In order to stop a cascade of horrific events, Angela must expose the truth of what happened in the past.

In 1929, Marie Toussaint's home is one of the few spared during an awful mudslide. The people of Sacajawea have not been accepting of Marie's presence in the small town, as she is black and known for her herbal medicinal remedies. The townsfolk terrorize Marie and her family, but on a night soon after the slide, they call on her to help a young girl who is ill. This healing sets into motion circumstances that will affect future generations: Marie's granddaughter Angela, and then Angela's son Corey.

Angela revisits Sacajawea in 2003, ready to put the shocking past to rest and move forward with her life. While she is trying to decide whether or not to sell the house, strange things start to happen. A dog disappears. People appear in places and don't know how they got there. There are odd deaths and other incidents around town. Can Angela unshroud the secrets of the past? Can she put right the atrocities that occurred long ago, before more catastrophes take place?

The Good House is a finely spun, eerie novel. The story unwinds at a meandering pace, so that its horrific events seem to hit the reader from out of nowhere. At its core, this is about the abuse of magic, and all that can result from it. Though horror novels are not in my usual reading comfort zone, I was pleasantly surprised by the artful crafting of this ominous tale of voodoo and generational curses. It is set in the area in which I live, and knowing the locations made the book much more interesting for me - the surroundings are a large part of the story, and the author's careful descriptions of landscape and scenery add to its depth.

Angela is depicted in such a way that readers will identify with her struggles, and be fearful about her fate, yet still be removed enough to learn from her mistakes. She is a strong, black female who knows what she wants and how to get it. I was truly rooting for her to beat the villains, and make things right. The switching back and forth between present and past viewpoints is accomplished deftly, never confusing or distracting. The author takes the reader back at precisely the right times to discover another piece to the puzzle, while traveling along with Angela's quest to correct evils that have impacted her entire life.

Tananarive Due is making a name for herself among horror writers. This is the first of her books I have read, but it will not be the last. Three dimensional characters, a plot full of action and suspense, accompanied by truly scary horror elements, wrap up into one masterful tale. The resolution at the end gives perfect closure. I encourage horror lovers, and those looking to step outside of their reading comfort zone, to try The Good House.

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