Either Schizophrenia or magic realism, death follows Howard. As dead approaches him through the uncanny endings of those around him, Howard is forced to face his fears and truths hidden deep in his house. Still looking for help and solace, Howard is unable to find peace until his partner, Reginal, makes a miraculous comeback from a land Howard finds unknown.
Violent at points and with trigger warnings, the readers should approach The House that Wasn’t There by Andrew Forrest Baker with precautions. Andrew creates a well-rounded story that is not centered in one single topic as he mixes suicide, drug, and alcohol usage with drag shows, bars, and a spicy scene making the reading experience a complete adventure.
Combining philosophical monologues with his writing style, the author plays a game to confuse the reader while still being clear about his intentions. With well-marked breaks between paragraphs, the reader can see the clean-cut difference between the philosophical thoughts behind the main character’s struggles and the story per se. This technique makes the novel easier to understand while staying faithful to the author’s intent. By hiding the story behind the main character’s grief and trauma, the reader keeps pushing through the story for the next bomb to explode and for all the pieces to fall into place.
Interestingly enough, The House that Wasn’t There is a prominent metaphor on its own. Starting from the impressive cover depicting Howard’s emotional and psychological state, down to the story development, the house he keeps referring to, the one with a temper, alludes to the gothic elements of haunted houses. In all sense, the author demonstrates that sometimes the haunted ones are the body and the human mind by our inner demons, trauma, and sicknesses.
Intense, intriguing, and philosophical, The House that Wasn’t There is a modern approach to the gothic that feeds our biggest fears.
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