Occult specialist Kathy Ryan returns in this thrilling novel of paranormal horror from Mary SanGiovanni, the author of  Chil...

Review of Behind the Door

Occult specialist Kathy Ryan returns in this thrilling novel of paranormal horror from Mary SanGiovanni, the author of Chills . . .
Some doors should never be opened . . .

In the rural town of Zarepath, deep in the woods on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, stands the Door. No one knows where it came from, and no one knows where it leads. For generations, folks have come to the Door seeking solace or forgiveness. They deliver a handwritten letter asking for some emotional burden to be lifted, sealed with a mixture of wax and their own blood, and slide it beneath the Door. Three days later, their wish is answered—for better or worse. 

Kari is a single mother, grieving over the suicide of her teenage daughter. She made a terrible mistake, asking the powers beyond the Door to erase the memories of her lost child. And when she opened the Door to retrieve her letter, she unleashed every sin, secret, and spirit ever trapped on the other side. Now, it falls to occultist Kathy Ryan to seal the door before Zarepath becomes hell on earth . . .

In the middle of the woods stands the Door.
No one knows what it is or where it comes from. 
All they know it what it does. 

For generations, the townspeople of Zarepath have passed down the knowledge of the Door and the rules of use:  Write a letter for what you want. Go at night, alone, and pass the letter under the Door. Wait 3 days for it to come to pass. It may not happen exactly the way you are expecting, but you only get to use the Door once so make it count. And most importantly, Never, Ever, Open the Door.  

It's the perfect premise for a horror novel because as we know, protagonists in horror always do exactly as they are told. *eye roll* For Kari, mourning the loss of her young daughter to suicide, the wish doesn't go as planned, and she opens the Door to try to take it back. Just like Pandora's box, all the evil is released back into this world. 

Thanks a lot, Kari.

The author does a great job of immediately introducing characters that make you uncomfortable. Very few people in Zarepath have not used the Door. This town is filled with human monsters and their secrets are horrid and repellent. The sheer bravado of these people going on living their lives after assuaging their guilt at the Door is unbelievable. This would be a good time to tell you this book includes child molestation, suicide, domestic violence, and many others. 

Once the Door is opened, everyone's sins come back to them in horrifying ways. Each horror is that person's version of their own distinctive hell. Sometimes shocking, sometimes piteous; they are recognizable people and fears of which they have intimate knowledge. Then, the entities morph into Lovecraftian-ish beings. This is where the book lost me. Yes, the creatures would be terrifying to meet IRL, but on the page, they all meld together into one big tentacle-y, sharked eyed, mouthy lump. There's no individuality to them and they lose their scary, torturous effect. On a side note, if I had to hear them being described as "leathery", ONE MORE #$^%$ TIME...Ok, it wasn't THAT often (garage scene, I'm looking at you). 

Enter occult specialist Kathy Ryan. We're already 50% into the book at the time that our "main character" deigns to join the plot. She races in and immediately sets to work solving the mystery of how all this happened. (Because of course, Kari didn't tell anyone what she did. Thanks again, Kari.) I was disappointed with Kathy's character. I would have liked to get to know Kathy more. Why is she qualified to be an occult specialist, other than the author telling us that she is one? She was a dull and uninspiring character. It was difficult to be interested in her.  

From there to the ending of the book, was well paced. It wasn't an "Aha!" moment and everything was then tied up in a neat and tidy bow. Actually, yes, that's pretty much exactly what happened. Kathy had an epiphany. They put a posse together to fix the Door and everyone lived happily ever after! Ok, not quite...we all know that in the equation of horror, all the evil can be contained, but there will be sacrifices. In this case, I'm totally fine with the sacrifice. My only regret is that it didn't happen on page 5. 

If you like horror, you might enjoy this book. Apparently, my view is unpopular and people really seem to love this book. They also seem to find it scary. 

I simply did not.

3 Paws Up

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About the Author

Mary SanGiovanni

Mary SanGiovanni is the author of over twenty books, most recently SAVAGE WOODS, NIGHT MOVES, and the forthcoming THE SKIN WE'RE IN. Her fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies for the last decade. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, where she studied under genre greats. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers, and Penn Writers, and was previously an Active member in the Horror Writers Association.