Author Karen Vorbeck Williams really had me at the cover. How could I possibly resist a book cover with what appears to be a haunted house and two little girls in white dresses holding hands. What’s more, in a note about the author, it states that she loved Nancy Drew as a young girl. Well, what can I say? Nancy Drew, people.
Winna returns to her hometown of Grand Junction, Colorado, upon the death of her father. She quickly learns that he has left his entire estate, including his big old house, to her, and nothing to her younger sister Chloe. As she begins going through the house and preparing it to be sold, strange and unexplainable things begin to happen to her. She doesn’t know why, and she can’t figure out who or how. After a couple of near deaths and many, many bumps in the night, the mystery unfolds.
Vorbeck wrote The House on Seventh Street in what I think can be a risky style. The story plays out in a back-and-forth manner, vascillating between Winna’s own story and that of her grandmother. I think in this case the style works well and the author handles it in an easy-to-follow manner. As we learn more about Winna’s grandmother, Winna’s story begins to make sense.
In my opinion, the author is a wonderful storyteller. I was caught up in the story from the very beginning, and never figured out the entire mystery until the very end of the book. And I’m talking literally the last paragraph. Vorbeck’s writing was vivid and I was able to picture the characters and see and hear and smell the sounds of the old house as it creaked around her. I, of course, loved the Colorado setting.
There were some problems with the storytelling, however. Early on in the book, Winna goes to a party in Grand Junction with her girlfriend and runs into her old high school boyfriend. We learn as the book goes on that this boyfriend, John, played a very significant role in her life. And yet, when she first sees him at the party, he merely looks “familiar” to her and she doesn’t recognize him. That just didn’t ring true. She would not have forgotten his face. Also, I was confused by her willingness to be with him again as we learn more about their former relationship, which in my opinion was abusive.
I also felt the author tried a bit hard to add texture to the story. Winna’s father was an alcoholic, and she recollects that he was physically abusive to her as a child. I simply couldn’t understand how that fit into the storyline. It seemed extraneous.
Having said all this, I enjoyed the book a great deal, and believe that Vorbeck will get better and better the more she writes. I look forward to reading her next book, as I hope she has plans for more in the future.