Sunday, October 6, 2019

No One's Home by D. M. Pulley

I finally sat down and finished this novel after having it checked out from the library for quite some time. Sometimes I get in trouble starting too many books and then have to finish them all in a big readathon. Part of my lagging on this novel was due to my hot and cold feelings about the plot. 

The plot switches back and forth between four families who have each lived in Rawlingswood, a rambling old mansion in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Moving from the early 1930's through 2018, each family has had plenty of bad experiences. The Rawlings family built the home, and Walter Rawlings overextends himself, and the failing stock market dooms his financial security. His wife and young son pay the ultimate price for his failings, setting the state for the dismal history of the home. The Klussman family also deals with tragedy. Frannie's marriage has ended with her husband leaving because he can't cope with their special needs child, Benny. Benny has to be locked in his room to protect himself from leaving the house and hurting himself. But Benny sees something outside that leads his mother to wrong conclusions, and disaster follows. Next up is the Martin family; Toby and Ava are foster children left alone with their foster father while their foster mother travels for work. Papa Martin is not a very nice man. No indeed. 

And finally, there are the new owners of Rawlingswood, the Spielman family. Myron and Margot, and their teenage son Hunter, arrive from Boston. Myron is a doctor with a new job, leaving a scandal behind in Boston. The house has undergone a lot of renovations and there is still the original, unsettling third floor attic, which were servants quarters decades before. There's something weird about the space...the bathroom light keeps turning on, footsteps are heard overhead, and the family keeps finding the attic door open. There's a sense of being watched...The tragic history of the home slowly unfolds, as we watch the Spielman family realize things just aren't quite right in the house. 

Well. I thought the family histories were interesting, and at first I was convinced this was going to spin out into a paranormal thriller. I think the author had great intentions, but I feel like there's just too much stuff in this plot. It seemed a bit cumbersome and bulky. Too many stories, background info, and characters make it seem like a slog sometimes to get through it. I had to keep reminding myself which family was what for every new chapter. The bones were good, but just too much plot. And the conclusion just seemed a bit far fetched and bizarre. 

So. I will give this author another chance. I almost would have preferred that this novel did take a good paranormal spin. It felt like it was moving in that direction, until the last moment, when it took a sharp turn and got a little too out there. Darn it. I'd hoped this would be a good spooky read for October, but it wasn't. 

Rating: 3/6 for a really long book about a whole lot of unhappy families living in one very troubled house. Dysfunction abounds, and what could have been a thriller about a house that is out of the ordinary instead became a laundry list of really messed up folks. 

Available in paperback. 

1 comment :

  1. In full agreement, it seemed to me tiring. Too many stories, background information,observational essay with our academic help and characters. A long, sad story of misfortune.I didn’t like it.