House of Crows
reviewed by Erin Clemence
House of Crows by bestselling author Lisa Unger is a collection of four stories, all sharing a common theme. The story centres on a group of childhood friends, a missing teenager, a haunted house, and a terrifying urban legend come to life.
Matthew, his wife Samantha and their daughter Jewel move to Merle House, the residence that Matthew inherited from his grandfather, in an attempt to start a new life. After accusations of an affair and a missing woman, Matthew is hopeful that the move will rekindle his relationship with both his wife and daughter and they will be able to put the past behind them. But when a woman shows up, requesting information on a teenager who disappeared many years ago, on the very property, Matthew calls on his old childhood friends to share their recollections from the day Amelia went missing. Set among the backdrop of an eerily rundown, dark and desolate house, the group recall the town’s urban legend- the Dark Man and soon, they all begin to feel haunted by more than just memories.
The four stories in House of Crows share the same plot, but each is told from the perspective of one of the four childhood friends (although Matthew is the main protagonist) with the underlying theme of the murder of crows that constantly darken the doorstep of Merle House. Complete with a twisty plot and a hauntingly nightmarish supernatural figure, “The Dark Man,” Unger provides us with a story akin to Stephen King, without all the gore.
The story is told both in modern day with snippets from the past, so we are able to connect with Claire, Ian, Mason and Matthew as children, and as adults as they struggle with responsibilities and loss. They are all likable characters, with obvious flaws, but they are also completely relatable. As the story develops, it is difficult to tell if there is a murderer in their midst, or if a paranormal entity is haunting the group, and Unger writes in such a way that any of these alternatives could be completely plausible. Of course the final ending has an unexpected twist, but the haunting atmosphere is still leaving tingles at the base of your neck well beyond the last page.
Unger’s House of Crows is uniquely creepy, and I loved how all four stories were related and tied together. The haunting entity of The Dark Man will leave readers with chills, and the supposedly haunted Merle House has everything that a decrepit mansion SHOULD have. Each story is engaging, and downright spooky right through to the very end.