Welcome to Paperback Throwback. Each week, I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Come check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in between— you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.
Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking.
Today’s selection is a good old-fashioned haunted house tale.
by Dana Brookins
Nothing much ever seems to happen in the tiny town of Edgar Falls, which is why something as simple as a newly constructed house can causes a flurry of excitement. Piece by piece, the new mansion with seemingly no known owner is loaded in and reconstructed on the deserted part of town. Young Bobby Topin avoids the house if he can. There’s something going on inside its walls … something that’s slowly leaking out. When horrific incidents begin occurring across Edgar Falls, Bobby knows it’s the house. It’s the … Soul-Eater.
Haunted house novels are huge, but it’s rare we actually get to see the house being built. While the idea behind this book is fun, it gets a little muddled in execution. Why build a malevolent house in Edgar Falls of all places? What’s a Soul-Eater, and why can only a somewhat psychic twelve year old defeat it? Why does the cover have a tree hugging said boy on it? If you can put aside expectations for solid answers, then there’s a good story in here somewhere.
The book progresses through multiple points of view. Some work better than others. One thing author Dana Brookins deserves credit for is not making the townspeople too quirky or the town itself too quaint. This is a rarity in Zebra paperbacks from the ’80s, and it does seem to ground the story in some semblance of reality.
Maybe too much reality considering everyone in the town is racist. An African American woman arrives in Edgar Falls, acting as a buffer between the townfolk and the mysterious mansion owner. Yet, the only question anyone seems to have is how she could have so much money. Yikes.