The Amityville Horror


1. Due to its supposed true story status, the events described were quite creepy and left me feeling spooked.

2. Fast read


1. Not well-written by any means. It made me cringe how at the end of every chapter, the author put a sentence like "And they couldn't believe their eyes!" Always with an explanation point. It reminded me of a fourth-grade writing assignment.

2. There is quite a bit of speculation that these events didn't actually happen, so it certainly takes away from the story.

Full Review

After watching the original Amityville Horror movie and feeling under-whelmed, I decided to read the book, which I did in a short time. It's a very fast read. Jay Anson, the author, was definitely not a brilliant novelist, but he laid out the events of those 28 days in great detail, obviously taking some dramatic license but sticking to the true events pretty closely. The book documented the 28 days that the Lutz family spent in their new home, the site of a shocking family murder the year before.

Such strange things happened! Doors being ripped off the hinges, windows flying open, swarms of flies in one room in the middle of winter, gooey blobs of some weird green substance oozing out the walls, toilets filling with black ickyness, apparitions of a little boy sitting on the edge of the bed (eww, scary!), the overwhelming smell of human feces coming from a mysterious room (all painted red and hidden behind a wall in the basement), the daughter talking about her friend Jodie, the giant pig (yes, pig) which the family saw - demonic red eyes and all. I found it odd that the screenwriter left out pieces of the story that could have been quite scary - like the wife levitating in her bed, waking up with bizarre scratch marks, and being gripped from the back by an unseen force.

There was a secondary "plot" in the story regarding a Catholic priest who originally blessed the house. Whenever he tried to warn or help the family, he became seriously ill with a fever and rashes. His room at one point was filled with the smell of human feces - for no apparent reason - and his car went out of control on the road with no warning or explanation.

I must admit that the book made me feel uneasy. Is there an "evil" force out there? I never believed in ultimate good or evil. It seems too simplistic for this giant universe. It makes me wonder if I'm just completely naive. Why would something (ghost, spirit, what-have-you) attack innocent people, create disgusting smells and gooey substances, and attract flies? It reminds of the Exorcism of Emily Rose. She always smelled something burning at 3:00 AM just before she was possessed. For some reason, those aspects of the "haunting" disturbed me the most. Would a natural, positive energy create those kinds of disturbances?

In Closing

If you want a quick spooky read, The Amityville Horror is perfect. If you want a well-written horror novel, this is definitely not for you.