It was expecting them.
Conrad and Joanna Harrison, a young couple from Los Angeles, attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife….
Thus begins a story of possession, sexual obsession, and, ultimately, murder, as a centuries-old crime is reenacted in the present, turning Conrad and Joanna’s American dream into a relentless nightmare.
An extraordinary marriage of supernatural thrills and exquisite psychological suspense, The Birthing House marks the debut of a writer whose first novel is a terrifying tour de force.
I picked this book up from the library. I was interested in it because I love ghost stories and haunted houses. I also was doing a bit of research on how someone might handle a creepy haunted birthing house.
I did not read it thoroughly. I was with the author during the first half of the book. By the time the show really got going, he hadn’t given me a character to identify with or feel for. Without empathy, I couldn’t invest deeply in the rest of the story. I think the plot presented a great opportunity.
I just don’t think the reader winds up getting what they could have from it. One major sticking point for me was Nadia. I didn’t appreciate the way the interaction with the 19 year old pregnant woman was handled. The problem wasn’t that it was done but how. Everything wound up feeling forced by the end. It was a bumpy landing which in places left me skimming rather than reading. I was disappointed.
This is my first unrated review. I would give the author another go. I think the potential of the story was promising even though the execution was lacking. I think as Christopher Ransom continues in his writing career, his books might appeal to me more. I am not saying don’t check out the book for yourself. I suggest surveying the reviews on Amazon to get an idea of why the novel worked for some and not others. If you do decide to give it a read, I’d love to hear your opinion.