In “The Chrysalis” by Brendan Deneen, Tom and Jenny Decker move to an old suburban house with a sordid history. The horror living inside the basement latches itself to Tom, beginning a terrifying saga.
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Tom Decker is at his wit’s end. With the rent of their shabby apartment increased to an exorbitant amount, there is no way he can manage it with his meager earnings from the bartending job. In another stroke of misfortune, his wife, Jenny, loses her job as a gym trainer. Desperate to find a living place, especially now that Jenny is pregnant, the Deckers consider themselves lucky to have found an old house in the suburbs at an unexpectedly low price. However, the house hides a horrible tragedy, in which the previous owner of the house was brutally killed by his wife, with his bloodstain still visible on the kitchen carpet. Is the house cursed? Why won’t Tom allow anyone to visit the basement? Read The Chrysalis by Brendan Deneen to know.
“Rosemary’s Baby” meets “The Shining” in this creepy, unsettling horror story. The novel progresses at a swift pace, easily cramming the events of the next nine months within its span. Deneen introduces the readers to the horror in the basement in little bouts of revelation. The descriptions of the chrysalis fill us with revulsion, even though we are still unaware of its true potential to cause havoc. As it bids its time in the confines of the dark basement, devouring souls both literally and figuratively, we wait with bated breath for the emergence of an unimaginable monster. The sordid history of the house, when revealed during the course of Jenny’s investigations, threatens to overwhelm the present occupants.
The novel becomes even more troubling as Deneen describes a man’s gradual descent to insanity. The chrysalis is as addictive as the most potent drug known to humankind; once it latches itself onto Tom, it does not let go. Instead, it exerts its power over him, slowly but inevitably dragging him to a dismal place from which there is no escape. It alienates him from his support system, a battery of well-intentioned friends. Although everyone around Tom can perceive this change, they are unable to turn him around. Tom’s transformation into an empty husk of a man, solely at the mercy of the chrysalis, is the true horror this novel unleashes. The book depicts a terrifying downward spiral associated with any kind of addiction, even if we keep the horror theme aside.
While I liked the ominous plot and the intense climax, I believe a little more depth to the characters could do wonders for this book. To make the novel fast-paced, Deneen often rushes through the story without devoting much time to the development of chemistry between the characters. The excessive alcohol abuse by the characters also disturbed me, although I would commend Deneen’s frank portrayal of their vices.
From a technical standpoint, the novel contains no errors, hinting at professional editing. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, sinister read. Those who love haunted house stories, as well as creature features, would find this to be an absolute treat.
- Title: The Chrysalis
- Author: Brendan Deneen
- Genre: Fiction (Horror, Ghost Thriller, Dark Fantasy Horror)
- Publication Date: 4 September 2018 by Tor Books
- ISBN or ASIN: B078X1SBWN
- Number of Pages: 304
- Minimum Audience Age: 18
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 3
- Religious themes: 0
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 4
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 4
- Other adult themes: 4
- Content: 4
- Writing Style: 4
- Appeal to Target Audience: 4
- Uniqueness: 3
- Editing: 5
- Other factors: 4
- Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Views expressed are the review author’s own.
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