Spite House, the debut novel from Johnny Compton, is a very complex story. There are a lot of well-developed characters, and each of them has secrets, and stories, things they are keeping to themselves and things they want to share. And, of course, there’s that house.

Eric and his two daughters, Dess and Stacy, are running from something. That something is not shared with readers until far into the book, but it causes issues wherever they go. They are loosely aiming to reach Eric’s childhood home, a place he feels he needs to return to – a placed with unfinished business. Money is a problem, though, and finding work while living out of a car and a string of cheap motels, particularly for a black man traveling with two children, no mother in sight is a bigger problem. Things are not looking good, and they spend most of their time looking over their shoulders, checking to be sure no one is on their trail.

Then Eric finds an advertisement. All they need to do is spend time in The Masson House, a purportedly haunted home with a long and jaded past, write down everything that happens, and report back to the owner. The money is incredibly generous, which makes Eric suspicious, but despite that, he applies, and he gets the job. It’s easy to get lost in the stories as they weave in and out of one another, but the ending is worth the journey.

What follows is a dizzying ride down first one plot line, and then another, as the house, the ruins of a nearby orphanage, the owner, and his own memories spiral and close in on Eric. Everyone has an agenda, and none of them are pleasant. Can Eric survive long enough to satisfy the home’s owner, Eunice? Will either of them find the answers they so desperately seek?

For those answers you’ll have to get a copy and enter The Spite House but be warned. It has a tendency not to let you go…

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