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Reviews for How To Sell A Haunted House

by Grady Hendrix

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

After the death of her parents, Louise returns to her Southern hometown to ready their house for sale. She dreads having to deal with her younger brother, given their past battles, but what's worse is the creepy something she encounters in the house itself. Following the author of the New York Times best-selling, LJ-starred The Final Girl Support Group.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A woman returns home to bury her parents only to find a spectacularly terrifying blast from the past waiting for her. By now, Hendrix is deep-dipped in 1970s and '80s horror tropes after depicting a haunted IKEA in Horrorstör (2014) and subsequent excursions into vampirism, exorcism, serial slaying, and the like. This one is set in the present day, but Hendrix is hooked up to another Stephen King IV drip, nicely emulating the elder’s penchant for everyday human drama while elevating the creep factor with his own disquieting imagination. Louise Joyner is beyond disbelief when her estranged brother, Mark, calls to tell her their parents are dead after a suspicious car accident. As she reluctantly returns home to Charleston, South Carolina, the underachieving Mark is already plotting to cheat her out of her half of the house, while a pair of quixotic aunts try to make peace between the two. One sticking point is the fate of the hundreds of dolls their mother, Nancy, made, collected, curated, and obsessed over. Mark’s boneheaded schemes; Louise’s yearning for her 5-year-old daughter, Poppy; and their collective grief introduce the tale, but Hendrix wastes no time in ratcheting the Pennywise vibes up to 11. It’s little surprise that the siblings’ secret tormentor is Pupkin, their mother’s very favorite puppet-—"The one who made Louise’s skin crawl. The one she hated the most.” Pupkin is newly prone to temper tantrums and homicidal rage when he doesn’t get what he wants—and since he can’t yet conceptualize that Nancy is dead, he just wants her back home with him. Horrific visions of anthropomorphic dolls, a bloody, near-fatal misadventure, and emotional extortion including nail-biting child peril soon follow. Pupkin the killer puppet doesn’t have the foul mouth of Chucky or the primal menace of the aforementioned clown, but the combination of Hendrix’s trippy take on the stages of grief and a plethora of nightmare fuel delivers a retro wallop for those in the mood. Warm up the VCR and fire up the air popper for a most bitchin’ horror story by a gifted practitioner of these dark arts. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Grief, generational trauma, and some sinister puppets animate this wildly entertaining haunted house tale from bestseller Hendrix (Final Girl Support Group). Hyper-competent single mother Louise Joyner and her estranged layabout brother, Mark, come together in the wake of their parents’ death, a reunion that consists largely of miscommunicating, airing simmering resentments, and bickering over their parents’ estate. Their Charleston childhood home was left to Mark, but their mother’s extensive puppet collection and whimsically creepy artworks went to Louise, meaning they’ll have to work together to clear the house out before selling it. After chapters of weird vibes and possibly moving dolls, it’s both refreshing and hilarious when the siblings get a realtor to the house and she frankly declares, “Your house is haunted and I’m not selling it until you deal with that.” Mark accepts the haunting as fact immediately, while Louise refuses to believe in the supernatural, even when the evidence is right in front of her. Hendrix does a fantastic job shading the sibling relationship, making the love, pain, and fundamental misunderstandings between them clear even before their intense backstory is revealed. The blurring of the supernatural and the psychological, meanwhile, is an effective engine for both suspense and humor on the way to a bloody confrontation. This is a gem. (Jan.)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Louise, a single mother, lives in California with her five-year-old daughter, Poppy. She has spent her life trying to keep physical and emotional distance from her family in South Carolina, especially her overly indulged brother, Mark. But when her parents die suddenly, Louise is forced to return home and reckon with the secrets that have been haunting her family for generations—secrets that may be actively trying to kill them. Organized into sections that refer to the stages of grief, the story follows Louise as she cleans out her parents’ home, assessing hundreds of puppets and dolls that were her mom’s life’s work. The attic entrance is boarded up, the dolls appear to move on their own, and Pupkin, the unsettling clown puppet that was her mother’s favorite, seems to be at the center of it all. Closure will take more than Mark and Louise getting along; it will require them to truly understand one another before they can have any hope of making it through this ordeal alive. With strong connections to twenty-first century classics such as Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts (2015) and Joe Hill's Locke and Key (2009), Hendrix' book sets the high watermark for horror in 2023.

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Siblings Louise and Mark Joyner are left with the task of selling their childhood home after their parents' deaths. The problem? Louise and Mark, driven apart by a rough childhood, have not talked to each other in years, and both are facing drained bank accounts due to a pandemic-caused economic downturn. When they enter the house, they notice the attic is boarded up, and newspapers are covering the mirrors. Neither one can imagine the horror and secrets they are about to encounter. Hendrix (Final Girls Support Group) has written another novel in his signature style, brimming with humor, horror, and heart. He delves into family secrets and the dangers they pose, even generations later. The narrative is Chucky meets The Exorcist with a dash of comedy, leaving listeners simultaneously chuckling and perhaps a little sick to their stomachs. Narrators Jay Aaseng and Mikhaila Aaseng give stunning performances of the siblings and an especially unsettling portrayal of the creepy puppets that inhabit the house. VERDICT Hendrix is poised to be one of the greats of horror fiction, and libraries will want to put this audio at the top of their lists. A must-add for any horror collection.—Elyssa Everling

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The author of New York Times best-selling fiction ( The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires) and Bram Stoker Award—winning nonfiction (Paperbacks from Hell), Hendrix launches a new scarefest that explains what's really terrifying about family.

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Hendrix, best-selling author of The Final Girl Support Group, comes fast out of the gate with a new addition to the haunted house pantheon. This is the story of Louise and Mark, siblings who are thrust into the ownership of a haunted house by the sudden deaths of both of their parents. The question becomes, what now? Hendrix skillfully balances complete creep outs and moments of outright hilarity. The down-home charm of the Charleston family is on point, and the scares are fun and frequent, while the author almost painfully captures sibling dynamics. Readers will be completely sucked in by Hendrix's adept prose, and the creepy dollhouse on the attention-grabbing cover, designed by Emily Osborne, is perfect in tone and plays well with the book's subject matter. VERDICT A must-have for any library that will appeal to a broad audience. Hendrix is a best-seller for a reason, and this new novel shows he is only getting better with age. Some excellent read-alikes to recommend are Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, The Invited by Jennifer McMahon, and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.—Jeremiah Paddock