The Amityville Horror | An ECD Review

Friday, April 11, 2014

Heather @ Stacks & Shelves and I have a book club, and our March/April book was The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson.  We're super smart, and we used to pick a book using our compared to-read shelves on Goodreads.  I have a lifelong goal of finding a book that really and truly scares me.  I thought this was going to be it.  It wasn't - and I am sure it is due to the writing style. Since this book is marketed as a true story, the author is basically just writing short sentences with the "facts" of what took place.  Very matter of fact.  It's basically a journal article without sources. 
The shocking true story of an American dream that turned into a nightmare beyond imagining...

In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in the house, but the property - complete with boathouse and swimming pool - and the price had been too good to pass up. Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror...

This is the spellbinding, bestselling true story that gripped the nation - the story of a house possessed by spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena too terrible to describe.
Upon moving in, the family notices strange temperature changes (George can't get warm despite the oil burner working and thermostat reading 80) and weird happenstances of windows and doors banging open and not being able to be closed right away. Also flies swarming a window of the mother's sewing room.  All very biblical. The front door actually comes off its hinges. One mildly scary aspect was the youngest daughter, Missy, having an "imaginary friend" named Jodie - who is a pig.  Children saying creepy things always scares the bejeebus out of me.

Alongside the story of the Lutzes, Anson describes the troubles of Father Mancuso, the Lutzes' priest from their hometown.  Mancuso blessed the house on the day the Lutzes moved in, and has been shaken up ever since.  He gets blisters on his hands (which are never addressed as stigmata, but...I thought it was pretty clear), gets the "flu" for several days (three times), the smell of human excrement permeates his apartment at the rectory (which he helpfully points out is the "sign of the devil!"), and each of these instances happens after he speaks with, offers advice to, or visits the Lutzes.  Mancuso's observation is that whatever is in the Lutzes' house, it's punishing him for helping the Lutzes drive "it" away.

I actually thought the brief look into the priest's reactions (and physical manifestations of his reactions - or of the spirit, if you feel that's what it is) and dealings with the diocese in terms of how to proceed (professionally) was way more interesting that the goings on inside the house with the Lutzes.  Nothing that went on in the house was super scary.  Sure it was weird as hell, but certainly not "too terrible to describe" as the description suggests.  Besides - it was barely described at all.

I gave this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads because, while I was not scared and did not like the writing style, it was still fairly interesting to read the alleged recount of the goings on in the home.  Though, I wouldn't actually recommend this book to anyone. I'm going to watch the movie to see how that adapts the story. 

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