What scares me most, as a horror reader, is not gore or on-screen frights; what gets under my skin is the unseen. The imagination is a helluva thing, and mine is good at creating terrors worse than what is usually on the page. Perhaps this is why horror from the 1960s and 1970s is my favorite: it isn’t gratuitous or in your face with blood and screams . . . instead, it relies on the reader using his or her own imagination to fill in the blanks.
Burnt Offerings is one such novel.
This is quiet horror at its finest. The Rolfes — Ben, Marian, and son David, as well as Ben’s aunt Elizabeth — rent a “unique” summer home for two months at a steal. The estate is two hundred acres of water-front property. The mansion has tons of rooms, endless hallways, a pool, the finest furniture and dishes. It is a marvelous place, especially compared to the Rolfes’ cramped Queens apartment. But, of course, some things are too good to be true . . .
A rather unrelenting descent into obsession and insanity, this novel is a force to be reckoned with and should get more recognition. It seems to be largely forgotten these days. An obvious inspiration for stories like The Shining, this is an unnerving tale I won’t soon forget.
Read for ‘Gothic’ in Halloween Bingo.