27th October, 2021

Review: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig (Del Rey)

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there. Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures. Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver. And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic. This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

When I read the synopsis of Wendig's book, it didn't take long for me to double click on that little basket icon as the story seemed right up my alley: a spooky house, a vengeful ghost, murder, magic, ... of course I was intrigued! Because it is a bit of a chunkster, I saved it for a particularly rainy weekend and it was blissful when I finally started reading it. The story starts out strong - with a bang, one could say - and once I had gotten the characters straight in the next few chapters, I thought "This could really be something".

Then, however, trope after trope happened and I didn't really like any of them because they seemed like a pick and mix of other stories: a bit of King here, a spritz of Koontz there and some Hendrix sprinkled on top. The thing is: There is a great idea lurking somewhere in here, but to me it seemed like the author simply wanted to pack too much into this book so that it has become - in my humble opinion - a bit of a convoluted mess. The Book of Accidents has elements of old-timey horror novels and sci-fi. It has parallel worlds and creepy woods, lost children, murdered children, abused children. It has a haunted house and magical creatures. It is about trauma, grief, alienation and terror. Yes, a bit much, innit? 

Do take my criticism with a grain of salt though because - after all - this is a very subjective viewpoint. I'm sure readers who are into mixed genres will like this better than I did and horror lovers should definitely give it a try. It is a crazy and creepy ride with lots of brilliant ideas. For me, throwing them all together just didn't really work.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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