Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
The machine, known by the name of Matt Shaw, continues to crank out novella after novella on a quarterly basis. Some of these works fall within the splatterpunk subgenre focusing on excessive violence and sexual content to disturb the reader. Yet, many more encompass a psychological edge to the horror. A House in the Country is one of Shaw’s most widely read novellas within the latter category.
The story focuses on Dean and Jess who have just bought a house in the British countryside. They got a great deal. The former owner had committed suicide, choosing to hang themselves in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It is said that the owner still haunts the place. No one else will even touch it.
Of course, Dean and Jess believe none of this. That is until the couple’s daughters say they hear and see things in the night. Dark shapes lurk in the windows, items appear out of place, and the attic door remains firmly barred. Is it possible the house is haunted? Or is this the product of fragile young minds having difficulty adjusting to the new setting?
A House in the Country is formulaic in concept, characters, and delivery. Even the ending is predictable. This said, it is hard not to like the story. Matt Shaw writes in a fashion which is instantly accessible and immersive to the reader. His character’s actions and thoughts are believable. The story, while having been told a thousand times over, is one that excites and scares.
Those enamored with the traditional ghost story will find A House in the Country to be an excellent read. The book delivers the quality of work Matt Shaw is famous for. However, those looking for something new or unexpected may wish to look elsewhere.