I openly admit to being a little ashamed at how long it took me to discover a Tananarive Due novel, but I got there and have been reading up on her work. It may very well have been on this site that I learned of her. The Good House is the first book of hers that I’ve managed to finish. It is set between two different time periods, reminiscent of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and follows both a Haitian grandmother and her last descendants as they deal with the chaos of their lives while attempting to break an old curse set against the family. I have never been a fan of the horror genre, I still sleep with the TV on, but this one managed to keep me intrigued. There were plenty of gruesome occurrences (suicides, murders) but the horror here is a bit more subtle.
Throughout the book there is Haitian Voodoo, African and Native American lore sprinkled around which I enjoyed. The Good House is located in the fictional town of Sacajawea, Washington and was originally owned by a pharmacist in 1907 and eventually willed to Haitian Creole herbalist Marie Toussaint in the mid-1920s. She lived there in house with her husband who the people in town called Red John, a Native American who had magic of his own. Back in those days such a pairing caused controversy that inspired hate and much ignorance and is what ultimately led to the curse that hit the Toussaint family. Marie’s pride got the best of her and she accidently unleashes an evil spirit.
She is able to contain it, but never gets around to explaining things to her granddaughter. Flash-forward to around 2001 and we find Angela Toussaint, a Hollywood lawyer back in her Grandmother’s old house for the summer with her son Corey and ex-husband Tariq Hill. They are there trying to make things reconnect as a family, but during Angela’s 4th of July party something very traumatic happens that leaves everyone reeling. It is from there that the story begins to come together. Angela, along her old lover Myles Fisher, begins to untangle the web that Grandma Marie left and rid the town of the spirit that has been wreaking havoc there. Due’s storytelling is brilliant but sometimes there is a little too much detail given and being completely honest Angela is not a very likeable protagonist. She is very obtuse and narrow minded and it can grate on your nerves a bit. To be fair there are a couple of characters who are like that in this novel. If you’re not interested in fairy-tale endings, you may very well side-eye how the book ends. Overall it is a great read and I’d recommend others to give it a try. The African Immortals series by Tananarive are next on my list to read.
A.D. Ransom is an aspiring author, writer, and comic creator. She loves mythology, Sci-Fi, fantasy and the usual blerd stuff. She is currently working up the nerve to share her work more, but can be found on twitter, @AD_Ransom, snark-tweeting through football games and her favorite tv-shows.