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The Agony House

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Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a li Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it's clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn't budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive...


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Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a li Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it's clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn't budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive...

30 review for The Agony House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Chung

    Finally finished. I've been working on this one for almost a month. This is my first Cherie Priest book and just judging this book, I don't think I'll pick up more of her works. I'm giving this book 3 stars. When I first heard about this book I thought it was a graphic novel (only). When I finally borrowed it from the library, I was slightly disappointed. It has some graphic novel illustrations within it's pages, but that kind of moves the story along. I'll start off with characters. Our main cha Finally finished. I've been working on this one for almost a month. This is my first Cherie Priest book and just judging this book, I don't think I'll pick up more of her works. I'm giving this book 3 stars. When I first heard about this book I thought it was a graphic novel (only). When I finally borrowed it from the library, I was slightly disappointed. It has some graphic novel illustrations within it's pages, but that kind of moves the story along. I'll start off with characters. Our main character Denise Farber has just moved from Texas to New Orleans after being away for many years. She moves into a run down "mansion". When I say run down I mean the windows have been boarded up for decades. Denise is around seventeen. She is going to be a senior in high school and her main goal is to survive this year so she can move back to Houston and go to college with her best friend Trish (which happens to be rich). Next there's a neighbor kid by the name of Terry who is super obnoxious right off the bat and pretty much pushes his way into the house to get a look around. The entire neighborhood has heard rumors of the "nail house" and that it is haunted. It has been on the "dare list" for a long time...even Dominique's grandma used to be dared to go inside the creepy haunted house. Dom and Norman have lived in this part of New Orleans their whole lives and have seen "white families" come and go buying off houses, fixing them up and then parting ways with the house and the town. That puts a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Right off the bat Dom is mean to Denise calling her gentrifiers. At first I didn't like Dom because I've been in that situation. I was the only white girl in my entire neighborhood when I moved to Macon, Georgia in the 5th grade. My neighbors were all very sweet and immediately came to our door to play, but when I got to school I was looked at like a freak. I ended having to go to a private school. With that being said, my bias and experience made me jump to conclusions. Dom and the rest of the town were just nervous that these "rich white people" were going to come in a wreck havoc on their town, building a bed and breakfast for only other rich people. With the characters out of the way what is the book about? Denise and Terry find an old comic book in the attic of the Agony House. Denise spends the entire book trying to figure out where the comic came from. Who created it. What to do with it now that she has it and of course reading the comic. The graphic novel portion of the book is the comic that Denise is reading. It's main character is a kick ass woman that fights crime with no need of a man to help her. What Denise doesn't realize is that while reading this comic it awakens the ghosts that live in her house. The rest of the story is Denise trying to convince everyone around her except Terry that her house is actually haunted. The book is written kind of weird. I want to say juvenile? I don't know if that is the right word. I just didn't really care for the writing style. I found all the characters to be a little annoying and the story to drag. I'm happy I read the book because I've always been curious about this author, but this book just wasn't for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    5 Stars Cherie Priest is a favorite author of mine. All things haunted house also a favorite of mine. Throw in some nice illustrations to this great story and you have a great book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I knew I would like this, but ended up really loving it! It reminded me of Cherie's FANTASTIC and TERRIFYING The Family Plot, but for teens. I loved the comic pages woven into the story, and really love the look at the rebuilding of the NOLA community after Katrina.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pablo G.

    The instant I heard the words "Agony House" I knew I was going to like the book. And as I read it more I realized that I absolutely loved it. It had both thriller and comedy all in one book. Anyone that reads the book would definitely agree that this is an amazing book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    ***Big thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review*** This book is definitely different from what I normally read. I have never been into graphic novels, not that I'm against them, they just haven't been my thing. But this cover is gorgeous and I was intrigued by the synopsis. I had REALLY hoped that it would have been a BIT more scary. This book focuses on a young girl, Denise, who moves back to New Orleans years after the big hurricane. She lost her father ***Big thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review*** This book is definitely different from what I normally read. I have never been into graphic novels, not that I'm against them, they just haven't been my thing. But this cover is gorgeous and I was intrigued by the synopsis. I had REALLY hoped that it would have been a BIT more scary. This book focuses on a young girl, Denise, who moves back to New Orleans years after the big hurricane. She lost her father and her grandfather in "the Storm". Her mother and her step dad throw all of their money into an old house with hopes of sprucing it up and opening up a bed and breakfast. Besides the house being a "crap hole", Denise is not too excited about being away from her friends for her Senior year. She is also less than thrilled when weird things start happening around the house. Her and a neighbor kid find a comic wrapped in plastic up in the attic. They start to read it, and throughout the book, whenever something happens in the comic the same thing happens in real life. Windows slam shut on hands, nails trip people up the stairs, porches cave in. It's like the house, or someone, doesn't want them there. Things progress as Denise uncovers secrets about the house, the past owner, and the mysterious comic. Not all things are as they seem. And one night, things come to a scary confrontation. This story is cute, and has a good sense of mystery to it. It's the typical, good ghost bad ghost situation and it all ends happily. I did feel like there were some parts of the book that were pushed or stressed a little too much. They brought up the fact about white people coming in and buying houses and trying to "white up" the neighborhoods. It was mentioned several times and really didn't have ANYTHING to do with the story. Nothing at all. Again, I would have liked the story to be a BIT more scary. All the really good ghost stuff happened in like the last 3 chapters. It was a cute little ghost story though! The writing was great!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This hybrid novel/graphic novel explores the story behind a haunted house in a gentrifying area of New Orleans. Since the book's told in third person, we don't get particularly close to Denise, but in the context of the story, this not only makes sense, it works well. When Denise, her mother, and stepfather, return to New Orleans to fix up an old home years after the storm, they're met with suspicion in the neighborhood. They're white, and the neighborhood is primarily black. There's smart discu This hybrid novel/graphic novel explores the story behind a haunted house in a gentrifying area of New Orleans. Since the book's told in third person, we don't get particularly close to Denise, but in the context of the story, this not only makes sense, it works well. When Denise, her mother, and stepfather, return to New Orleans to fix up an old home years after the storm, they're met with suspicion in the neighborhood. They're white, and the neighborhood is primarily black. There's smart discussion of gentrification and the issues surrounding it, without feeling like a lecture or like Denise and her family weren't welcome (there's a particularly poignant part about employing the neighbors to help with fixing the home and then, when it turns into a BnB, employing them with fair wages). But the ghost story is the key here! Denise and her new friend discover a comic in the spooky attic and -- surprise! -- the comic is the key to understanding the weird, ghostlike experiences they're having in the home. There's a neat look at comic culture and how, during the era of CCA, women and people of color weren't allowed to play real roles in the stories. Fun horror, perfect for younger YA readers (& no problem for middle grade readers, either). This is a book without romance for any readers seeking that out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    This book was a mess, and I'm so sad my love of spooky got me here. I was ready for all the spooks and the ghosties, but instead I got a super boring book that had parts that made me uncomfortable. The premise of the novel is Denise, a girl from Texas, moves back to New Orleans after years of being away. She first left after Hurricane Katrina, which took away her dad and grandmother, and now she is back with her mother and stepfather to start over new. They move into a dilapidated house that is This book was a mess, and I'm so sad my love of spooky got me here. I was ready for all the spooks and the ghosties, but instead I got a super boring book that had parts that made me uncomfortable. The premise of the novel is Denise, a girl from Texas, moves back to New Orleans after years of being away. She first left after Hurricane Katrina, which took away her dad and grandmother, and now she is back with her mother and stepfather to start over new. They move into a dilapidated house that is more than the average fixer and upper to create a bed and breakfast. Besides it being a mess, they soon realize they might not be along after mysterious voices, accidents, and more happen...especially after Denise uncovers a mysterious comic creator died in the house and Denise has found one of his old comics. 👻 The first part of the novel that was meh for me was the storyline. It was super boring. I mean, I wanted to start skimming very early on. It was just a lot of lemme tell you everything I'm doing in this day to day happenings and be super meh about it. I was bored and just ready for the ghosties. When the ghosties did come, they really weren't very exciting. There were no chills to be had and there was no excitement. I didn't even fully get they were ghosties. The first occurrence of paranormal happenings was I think in the second chapter? Literally, Denise is exploring the attic, sees the door start to move, hears a scratch, and is like GHOSTS. ALL THE GHOSTS. GHOSTS GHOSTS GHOSTS AND MORE GHOSTS. Okay, this girl is all about the ghosties and probably those people on Ghost Hunters would have the same reaction but it was wildly jumped/reached and I was lost. 👻 The art. I thought there would certainly be far more graphic content. That was one of the main reasons I picked it up. I love mixed media novels, and the art looked pretty good. The art that was in the novel was mostly in the chapter headers (that were all the same) and the comic. I mean, the art was good, but I just wanted more of it. The art was honestly the most enjoyable part of the novel. The art parts really that captivating either. I wanted to like the comic a lot, but it wasn't that great. It was just meh. 👻 The characters. I didn't like any of them. If the character wasn't likeable, they were literally just there. I mean, there was nothing special about any of them. I felt no connection. I was severely not a fan of Denise, and the rest of them? So meh. The parents, Norman, Dominique, and...that one neighbor kid whose name I barely remember. Terry? I'mma call him Terry. I thought perhaps he would be entertaining because he just barged right into the house and was like gimme all your ghosts! But he was still boring and way too aggressive in this respect to be funny. 👻 I wasn't a super fan of the writing either. It was in third person, so I think the disconnect with even stronger than it was had it been from Denise's POV. 👻 Now, onto the parts that made me uncomfortable. There was a first part immediately made me uncomfortable but then I continued on and it got even worst. I read a lot of reviews for this book and a lot of people praised Priest's incorporation of gentrification and these instances, but honestly, I really didn't get it. I just felt turned off and uncomfortable with how it started and for me, I felt like this instance took away any good it did. All of the things I'm about to mention just happened in a few pages. So, Denise runs into this potential love interest Norman when he is delivering a pizza to her house. He mentions to her, hey, you're new and my age - a good place to hang out is this po'boy restaurant that is a good place to hang AND they have free wifi. The next day, Denise, is like yes! I'm going to go here. So she wanders in, realizes she has to pay to use wifi, so she gets some food. The author describes this entire process and than, at the very last sentence of the paragraph, this sentence is added in: "When she got her food, she picked a seat and tried not to feel weird about being the only white person who wasn't working behind the counter." ... ... ... What does that even mean? I intensely blinked at the book for a good long time, feeling incredibly uncomfortable but still I decided to move ahead because I was hoping to figure out what that meant. A few paragraphs later, Denise is just minding her business, on the computer, and some girls her age walk up to her and immediately start interrogating her. They want to know if she is the person that moved into the new house and the reasons behind it. They believe she is a gentrifier and has only moved into the area to fix up the house and upsell it so the neighborhood will have issues. They talk about how clear it is. This immediately makes Denise upset and she has to continuously how poor she is. I mean, there is literally a huge paragraph about her describing how poor she is and how they can't afford anything and doesn't this girl see her beat up laptop??? When that isn't enough, she has to talk about how she is actually from New Orleans and her daddy died in this city. Dominique, the ring leader, is like, "and i'm supposed to feel sorry for you?" So Denise is like, "Y'all don't want me here, and I don't want to be here, so there's something we agree on. Leave me alone, or keep giving me grief, I don't care. I've got headphones." And then randomly Dominique is like, "Why aren't you eating? You should be eating. Give me a dime so I get this girl some fries." And Denise is like, well, "So Dominique wasn't always awful to everybody, mostly just gentrifiers." ??????? This entire scene clearly makes Denise out to be the victim and Dominique and her group out to be the villain. I mean, Dominique is clearly harshly investigating her and Denise is having to defend herself/mention she is a victim in this situation. Plus, instead of dealing with this and asking Dominique why she feels this way, Denise instead just completely dismisses her. And I still don't even get the french fries thing???? Again, it was incredibly uncomfortable period, but especially after the above statement that put it all into context. When talking with Sha about this, she found it quite apt that this was entitled Agony House. The worst part was this exchange that was the worst part in my opinion. Denise's stepdad comes to pick her up and Denise pops into the car. They exchange a few words and then this appears: Denise: "You want me to ride a bike in this heat? Through this neighborhood?" Stepdad: "The heat, I'll give you. But don't crap on the neighborhood. Don't be one of those white kids who's weird about being around black kids." Denise: "I'm not. I'm trying not to, and...that's not what I meant. I've...I've got black friends in Houston. Kim's black." She knew it sounded dumb even before it left her mouth, but there it was. "But that's not the problem, I don't think. Well, I don't know, maybe that's part of it. The point is, I don't have any new friends." ... I don't even know where to begin to unpack all of things uncomfortable and wrong in this statement. I don't even remember a Kim being mentioned before this moment, and just because you know/have black friends doesn't not equal you to have racial issues. And you don't think that the problem?? Maybe it's part of it??? I can't even. Maybe there was a full arc for this (idk, I did major skimming for the rest of the book but there were parts that I was 200% done after this point that I did end up giving up a little past halfway through even in my skimming so I'm not entirely sure) that would topic important issues in race and gentrification, but I believe this beginning part isn't the way to do it at all. This was just a messy read for me, and this review is long enough. Don't recommend at all. 1 crown and a Merida rating.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I picked this for the Halloween display at the book store I work for. It's new, and will be a great addition for those who like YA titles. It's interesting, and the graphic portions of the story definitely enhance the written portions. There were a couple of bits that felt a tad bit...preachy...but they didn't take away from the overall story. My daughter is already asking to read it! Note: For those who care about such things (like me), if you buy the HB version and don't wait for pb to come out I picked this for the Halloween display at the book store I work for. It's new, and will be a great addition for those who like YA titles. It's interesting, and the graphic portions of the story definitely enhance the written portions. There were a couple of bits that felt a tad bit...preachy...but they didn't take away from the overall story. My daughter is already asking to read it! Note: For those who care about such things (like me), if you buy the HB version and don't wait for pb to come out...there are PRETTIES under the dust jacket.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    Similarly to her work in the terrific I Am Princess X , in The Agony House author Cherie Priest tells a gripping story with comic book illustrations mixed in to tell a piece of the tale. When Denise discovers the hidden comic book in the creepy attic of her new house (which she bluntly refers to as a "craphole" at all times), the book seems to be a clue to the unexplainable events happening to the family as they try to make the old place livable once again. Denise is a great main character -- cl Similarly to her work in the terrific I Am Princess X , in The Agony House author Cherie Priest tells a gripping story with comic book illustrations mixed in to tell a piece of the tale. When Denise discovers the hidden comic book in the creepy attic of her new house (which she bluntly refers to as a "craphole" at all times), the book seems to be a clue to the unexplainable events happening to the family as they try to make the old place livable once again. Denise is a great main character -- clearly very smart, devoted to her family, but unhappy with being dragged away from her friends back in Houston and forced to live in this awful house. As she settles in and gets to know some of the teens in her neighborhood, we get a picture of the devastation left by the Storm (as they refer to it), even after so many years. The book deals with issues around economic hardship, gentrification, and privilege, not in a preachy way, but by showing the struggles and resentments of the characters and the new understandings they need to reach in order to get along. The social lessons here feel organic and important to the story, and I appreciated seeing the characters come to terms with one another in all sorts of interesting ways. I'd place The Agony House somewhere between middle grade and young adult fiction. The main characters are high school seniors, but the events and the narrative would be fine for younger readers, middle school or above, so long as they're okay with ghosts and spookiness. I really enjoyed the comic book pages and how they relate to the main story, and thought it was all very cleverly put together. As an adult reader, I saw the plot resolution twist coming pretty early on, but that didn't lessen the satisfaction of seeing it all work out, and I think it'll be a great surprise for readers in the target audience.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karissa

    I have read a number of books by Priest and they are always interesting reads even though I am not a huge fan of her writing style. When I saw this book was a blend of traditional novel and graphic novel I had to pick it up because I love that sort of thing. This ended up being a decent read involving a haunted house, ghosts, and a teen trying to fit into a new neighborhood. Denise and her family have just moved back to New Orleans and purchased a huge decrepit house that Denise’s mom wants to tu I have read a number of books by Priest and they are always interesting reads even though I am not a huge fan of her writing style. When I saw this book was a blend of traditional novel and graphic novel I had to pick it up because I love that sort of thing. This ended up being a decent read involving a haunted house, ghosts, and a teen trying to fit into a new neighborhood. Denise and her family have just moved back to New Orleans and purchased a huge decrepit house that Denise’s mom wants to turn into a B&B. Unfortunately money is tight and things keep going wrong, it’s almost like the house is out to kill them. Then when Denise and her family start hearing and seeing strange things it really gets out of control. Denise wonders if everything that is happening ties into a mysterious graphic novel that she found in the attic of the house. This is a well done ghost mystery sort of story. I enjoyed the setting of a New Orleans that is trying to recover from the aftermath of Katrina. I also liked Denise and the other teens she meets in New Orleans. The story is a well done mystery and I enjoyed the role the graphic novel played in it. The book alternates between novel portions and graphic novel parts. The graphic novel parts are much less frequent and are directly from the mysterious graphic novel Denise and her friends find. While there isn’t anything super creative here, this was a fun and creepy diversion. For some reason it reminded me a bit of Chris Wooding’s “Malice” although the mystery was quite a bit different. Overall this was a good read. It’s a creepy haunted house story in an interesting setting. The mystery and the characters were engaging and well done. I would recommend to those who enjoy novel/graphic novel hybrids and like ghost stories.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Akoss

    @Kidlitexchange #partner - I received a copy of this book from the Kidlitexchange network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Releases 9/25/18 Denise and her family move back to New Orleans in hopes of changing their fortune by renovating an old house and turning it into a bed and breakfast. Old houses are a tricky business to handle but when it becomes undeniable that the house didn't want Denise and her family around, she decides to push back and keep her family safe by un @Kidlitexchange #partner - I received a copy of this book from the Kidlitexchange network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Releases 9/25/18 Denise and her family move back to New Orleans in hopes of changing their fortune by renovating an old house and turning it into a bed and breakfast. Old houses are a tricky business to handle but when it becomes undeniable that the house didn't want Denise and her family around, she decides to push back and keep her family safe by uncovering the house's dark past. My favorite kind of scary story is the kind that makes me jumpy, the kind that makes me wonder if what the character sees is real or an illusion, and the kind that makes me paranoid about anything remotely odd. Cherie Priest delivers all of that and more. The combination of prose and graphic novel panels adds a neat interactive level to the reading experience. Wondering about what unsettling details Denise will uncover in her search through the house's past makes this book a thrilling page turner and so hard to put down. Agony House is an excellent horror read that doesn't over do it. I highly recommend you read it in one sitting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rianna

    I received an ARC of this book from a giveaway. So I was so excited for this book, it looked like something right up my alley and it was! While it took me so long to finish I truly don't know, but I always came back to it and it was enough important that I could pick it up and not at all wonder what had happened last time if been reading. I feel like the book was a little over wordy at times and I found myself anxious to solve the mystery. The characters were all pretty enjoyable. It also made m I received an ARC of this book from a giveaway. So I was so excited for this book, it looked like something right up my alley and it was! While it took me so long to finish I truly don't know, but I always came back to it and it was enough important that I could pick it up and not at all wonder what had happened last time if been reading. I feel like the book was a little over wordy at times and I found myself anxious to solve the mystery. The characters were all pretty enjoyable. It also made me remember how visual I really am and I adored the comic parts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa (Books Take You Places)

    The Agony House was so great. I loved how there was a story within a story, it added to the entire depth of the novel. I liked Denise, and loved how her parents were not "absent parents," their relationship, especially with her stepdad, was very endearing. It is no surprise that my favorite parts of Agony House were the creepy bits! I loved the New Orleans setting and enjoyed traipsing about the old house with Denise. Recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I really enjoyed this one! I'm glad I listened to it on audio because it was so atmospheric and spooky that way! The sound effects during the comic book portions were awesome and really added to the story! I do feel like it went a bit slow at times, but it eventually picked back up and turned out to be a great story! It felt so classic ghost story and I loved that!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    a fun, feminist ghost story set in post Katrina New Orleans; an old house nightmare, with a mystery solved by an engaging, plucky young heroine who's not afraid to get help from the dead (with gentrification issues touched on)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    I really enjoyed this

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    3 1/2. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Princess X, but as a ghost story/mystery/haunted house story for middle school and high school it works.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fifi

    I thought this was gonna be a creepy horror story about a haunted house but it was actually really boring and lame. Now I’m sad.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Robinson

    I really thought I was going to like this book but nah. All the secondary characters seemed flat and one dimensional and I thought there was a lot of filler that didn’t need to be in the book. For a ghost story it was rather boring.

  20. 5 out of 5

    orangerful

    I was "finished" with this book about halfway through. Such a disappointment. I forced myself to read to the end to find out what was going on and yeah, that was also a disappointment. After I Am Princess X this just felt like a book mandated by a publisher who said "Write that again!" That or I have just read more YA since then and know how much better the writing can be. I had some hope because there was a genuinely scary moment about a third of the way through, but after that it just became r I was "finished" with this book about halfway through. Such a disappointment. I forced myself to read to the end to find out what was going on and yeah, that was also a disappointment. After I Am Princess X this just felt like a book mandated by a publisher who said "Write that again!" That or I have just read more YA since then and know how much better the writing can be. I had some hope because there was a genuinely scary moment about a third of the way through, but after that it just became ridiculous. Everyone was pretty chill about the house being haunted and the ghost trying to MURDER THEM! Third person was a mistake for the narration, this would have been far better in first person. Plus, there was some weird social commentary that was going somewhere but then didn't? I was waiting for the whole rich/poor dynamic to pay off but it never did. I have not been so upset with a book in awhile. If it had not been a library book, I would have tossed it across the room.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    A New Orleans haunted house story with graphic novel elements? Yes, Please! For someone who devoured a steady diet of Lois Duncan as a tween, this was right up my alley. Bonus points to Ms. Priest for including social, racial, and economic issues in a way that is educational but not preachy. And a healthy step-parent/step-kid relationship? Extra bonus points, plus gold stars and sparkles. (And unicorns and donuts for the shout-out to indie booksellers.) And now I really want a Lucida Might comic s A New Orleans haunted house story with graphic novel elements? Yes, Please! For someone who devoured a steady diet of Lois Duncan as a tween, this was right up my alley. Bonus points to Ms. Priest for including social, racial, and economic issues in a way that is educational but not preachy. And a healthy step-parent/step-kid relationship? Extra bonus points, plus gold stars and sparkles. (And unicorns and donuts for the shout-out to indie booksellers.) And now I really want a Lucida Might comic series. Please, someone at Graphix, make that a thing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsea Kidd

    Denise Farber is about to start her senior year of high school and has just moved with her mom, Sally, and stepdad, Mike, from Houston back to New Orleans, where she was born. Denise and her mom left New Orleans when Denise was just a baby, after the destruction caused by “The Storm” (Hurricane Katrina) and the resulting deaths of Denise’s father and grandmother. Her mom and stepdad have bought an old rundown Victorian house that they intend to fix up and convert into a bed and breakfast, as had Denise Farber is about to start her senior year of high school and has just moved with her mom, Sally, and stepdad, Mike, from Houston back to New Orleans, where she was born. Denise and her mom left New Orleans when Denise was just a baby, after the destruction caused by “The Storm” (Hurricane Katrina) and the resulting deaths of Denise’s father and grandmother. Her mom and stepdad have bought an old rundown Victorian house that they intend to fix up and convert into a bed and breakfast, as had been Denise’s grandmother’s dream before she died. Denise isn’t sold on the idea of living in the dirty, weatherworn house, or being away from her friends in Houston, especially when she starts hearing mysterious humming, and footprints in the dust belonging to nobody. When the house starts trying to kill them, Denise needs to unravel the mystery of the identity of the ghosts living there, and how they’re related to a comic book she found in the attic, whose author died in the 1950’s inside the very house her family is trying to save. __________ I received a review copy of this book from my husband, who got it from a vendor giving away books at a convention. Okay, the ending took me by surprise! In mystery books like this, I always like to try to predict what the twist ending will be, and I will say I was totally blindsided. I might actually go back and re-read this one to see if I missed some big hints. I think I must’ve. For hardcore horror fans this might not be scary enough, but I’m spooked very easily and found the horror elements very effective. Denise’s first friend in New Orleans, Terry, is the exact type of person I’d want to accompany me in a haunted house. He’s persistent to the point of being annoying, very excited about ghosts, and great comic relief when things start getting spooky. He’s also loyal, and will always show up when you need him, which seems to be exactly what Denise needs in her new neighborhood. She also makes friends with Norman, who is always willing to help out with anything she or her family needs, and she makes a sort-of friend out of Dominique, Norman’s cousin, and easily my favorite character in the whole book. I would’ve loved to see more of her. The story really gets going when Denise and Terry discover the manuscript for a comic book hidden up in the attic while searching for ghosts, which happens pretty early on in the book. The comic is Lucida Might and the House of Horrors, a story about a fast-talking, fast-shooting detective who apparently spends most of her time rescuing her accident-prone boyfriend, Doug. The comic segments are fantastic, and the art really helps to set the mood for the story. The comic (in universe) was written by Joe Vaughn, who, according to his (in universe) Wikipedia article, gave up his comics career after the Comics Code Authority regulations in the 1950s restricted the types of things his female hero was allowed to do. I thought the Wikipedia article was a nice touch, and, as a former Wikipedia editor, got a real kick out of the description of the talk page arguments. It was a nice note of realism. I also really appreciated the frank discussion of gentrification. Denise is a white girl, from a white family, who moved to a predominantly poor, black neighborhood to fix up an old house and turn it into a bed and breakfast. Dominique in particular is very quick to brand Denise’s family as gentrifiers, but not necessarily without reason. Dominique, Norman, and their grandmother all give Denise a primer on what gentrification is, how it negatively affects the neighborhood, and how not to be a gentrifier, and I found it deeply thoughtful and effective. Okay, this is MUCH longer than I had originally planned. Maybe one day I will do a super spoilery analysis of this book because I feel like there’s a lot in those 270ish pages to talk about, but that’s for another time, and not for this review. I’ve already said too much. I’d give The Agony House 4 stars for not enough Dominique, but that seems petty, so it gets the 5. Crossing my fingers that we’ll see more ghost hunting adventures from the gang in the future. Cherie Priest also wrote I Am Princess X, which is definitely going on my to-read list.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cassi

    This book was amazing! Everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved I Am Princess X and I was really excited to hear that she had a new book coming out in a similar format. I saw copies available at ALA and I picked it up without even reading the synopsis. Then I read the synopsis and was even more excited. It was incredibly apropos that I received a copy of this book at ALA in New Orleans because this is a book set in New Orleans, which is just one great thing about it. And the mystery and his This book was amazing! Everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved I Am Princess X and I was really excited to hear that she had a new book coming out in a similar format. I saw copies available at ALA and I picked it up without even reading the synopsis. Then I read the synopsis and was even more excited. It was incredibly apropos that I received a copy of this book at ALA in New Orleans because this is a book set in New Orleans, which is just one great thing about it. And the mystery and history of New Orleans definitely comes alive in The Agony House. It’s a city full of stories of ghosts and haunted houses. That seems to be the basis for this story and I really loved that. I love books that are set in mysterious old houses because I always wonder what happened in a place years ago. And seriously, this House was so creepy and fascinating. It definitely had this great horror movie vibe. It was compelling and cinematic made all the more interesting with the comics that were dispersed throughout. But the house was only the start when it came to establishing the setting of this book. It takes place in the present day so the book has to deal with Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. I really liked why Cherie Priest did with this aspect of the story. She didn’t shy away from talking about some of the terrible things that happened to the city of New Orleans and the people who lived there. She also really addressed the idea of gentrification and people coming into a blighted neighborhood and wanting to make it better at the expense of the people who had been there for generations. It’s such an interesting concept and I loved that she talked about it here. It gave the book a lot of depth and also grounded it in reality. And that reality was shown in sharp contrast to the amazing supernatural elements in this book. I’m not a big fan of horror but I like a creepy book that makes me look over my shoulder and question things about old houses which is exactly what this book did. The ghost elements were really well done and had me really thinking that this house could certainly be a stop on a New Orleans ghost tour if it existed. And the ghost tour I went on was one of the highlights of my trip so that made me incredibly happy. The other thing about this book that made me very happy was the mystery. I really loved the way it all unfolded. Like I Am Princess X this one had a comic that was dispersed throughout the story which gave clues that lead to the big reveal at the end (and in this case also showed what run ins with the resident ghost would be like). But unlike Princess X, I felt like this mystery was a little less obvious. It still was solvable and there were hints but it felt like a more mysterious and complex narrative which I appreciated. It was also an incredibly addicting read. It’s a short book and therefore it’a not too surprising that I finished it in two days but I also could not put it down. I keep telling myself “just one more chapter” and before I knew it I had read another forty pages. It had that much of my attention. All in all, this was an amazing read. It is the perfect combination of supernatural thriller and historical mystery plus there is the comic thrown in for even more amazingness. I really loved and definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fast and compelling Halloween read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erin Moulton

    Agony house was an interesting haunted house story that combined a creepy setting with a long lost comic book. I found Agony House entertaining and I really liked the twist at the end, but I had a few things that just weren't for me on a more personal taste level. What I liked: I really liked the plot. I enjoyed the action and the characters and I think that the twist at the ending was really interesting and unexpected (at least to me). I loved the comic book character and I loved the illustratio Agony house was an interesting haunted house story that combined a creepy setting with a long lost comic book. I found Agony House entertaining and I really liked the twist at the end, but I had a few things that just weren't for me on a more personal taste level. What I liked: I really liked the plot. I enjoyed the action and the characters and I think that the twist at the ending was really interesting and unexpected (at least to me). I loved the comic book character and I loved the illustrations. I loved the main character. I found her real and compelling. Her sidekicks grew, too. The backstory was neat and well thought out. I loved the setting. For negatives: as a librarian reading a book that is about a kid interested in house history or a death that has happened at their house, the very first place I would think to go is the public library. I know I know, she's a kid, but still. I've had kids come into the library looking for articles and obits. It would have been a natural first step for her to go to the public library and find the obituary for that dead guy. Then look into the house history. Something similar happened, but not until page 196. It felt really weird to me that a kid would come up with so little information by page 196. The writing was good, but so practical. This is purely an aesthetic taste. I love evocative writing and I would have felt more of the spookies if the writing had been more evocative, or perhaps placed more deeply inside the character's head. I didn't get the feels. Finally, one of my main thoughts was why she didn't just read the comic book in one sitting. I mean, bad things happened when she read the comic book. That either would have spurred me to get rid of the thing, burn it, or read it all in one sitting to get through it. Neither of these things happened. The character almost rolled with the punches too easily. I felt like that decreased the tension a little bit. Still, I did like the book. I found it entertaining and interesting. A clever idea that will find readers interested in a quick read with an interesting twist.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Disclaimer: I received this book through KidLitExchange and the publishing company. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Rating: 3/5 Publication Date: September 25, 2018 Genre: MG Mystery Recommended Age: 12+ (mystery, some spooky moments) Publisher: Scholastic Pages: 272 Amazon Link Synopsis: Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown Disclaimer: I received this book through KidLitExchange and the publishing company. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Rating: 3/5 Publication Date: September 25, 2018 Genre: MG Mystery Recommended Age: 12+ (mystery, some spooky moments) Publisher: Scholastic Pages: 272 Amazon Link Synopsis: Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it's clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn't budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive... Review: For the most part this book was cute and enjoyable. The book had a good mystery in it and the characters are fairly well developed. The story is engaging as well and it would be a cute mystery for younger readers. However, I didn’t like how the book brought up the topic of white people coming in to “white up” the neighborhood but didn’t go anywhere with it. It seemed like the book could have done better on some of the more social conscious issues but it failed to push those. Instead the book pushed random/unimportant aspects to the point where I felt that it was just trying to fill the book. Verdict: A cute mystery.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    See full review on my link text my blog of reviews on books that haven't come out yet! I picked this one up because not only was it a ghost story, but it's also part graphic novel, which I thought was the coolest thing! I liked it and the ending was cute. I really liked how the characters weren't in denial about ghosts the whole time because that just takes away from the story so I'm happy that didn't happen. The cast of characters was interesting and I really liked the friendships the main, Denis See full review on my link text my blog of reviews on books that haven't come out yet! I picked this one up because not only was it a ghost story, but it's also part graphic novel, which I thought was the coolest thing! I liked it and the ending was cute. I really liked how the characters weren't in denial about ghosts the whole time because that just takes away from the story so I'm happy that didn't happen. The cast of characters was interesting and I really liked the friendships the main, Denise, made with the neighborhood kids -especially with Dominique, who looked like they would be enemies in the beginning. Terry was funny and Norman was cool. No ships in this book (which is better for the story). The plot was mysterious. It doesn't quite snatch up your attention like I've experienced with some other AMAZING books, but it was fun to try and figure out what was happening. Likes/Dislikes: I said this before but again: I really liked how the characters weren't fully in denial of ghosts the whole time. I feel like the book was WAY better that way. Also liked how there was an actual comic book IN the story!! And how the color of the text would change to blue when the kids were texting or reading articles etc. I didn't like how it was told through third person narration; I feel like it could've been better off with going first person. Conclusion: I would rate this a high 3 out of 5 stars. I'd recommend it to anyone in the mood for a good quick & fast ghost story. Took me 3 days to read

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marc the Darc

    This is Cherie Priest's best book of her last several, in my opinion, in both adult and young adult catergories. It skews older than her last YA novel, I am Princess X, and meets the technical definition of a YA novel, but I think it works quite well as an adult novel as well, taking into account the teen character POV. It is also a better haunted house story than her last, The Family Plot. I firmly enjoyed this. In other reviews of Cherie Priest's novels I have described my frequent aversion to This is Cherie Priest's best book of her last several, in my opinion, in both adult and young adult catergories. It skews older than her last YA novel, I am Princess X, and meets the technical definition of a YA novel, but I think it works quite well as an adult novel as well, taking into account the teen character POV. It is also a better haunted house story than her last, The Family Plot. I firmly enjoyed this. In other reviews of Cherie Priest's novels I have described my frequent aversion to her dialogue, but I experienced none of that here. The main character, Denise, speaks as a smart, chill. world-wise teenager. Her friends are diverse and well-characterized too. Priest uses the same gimmick as in her prior YA outing, crafting a story that interweaves with a comic, creating a partial-graphic novel, although it is heavily more novel than graphic. The effect is welcome and effective here. One thing left me baffled in this tale, however, is that it took Denise perhaps two full weeks, or however long the events take place over, to read all the way through a single comic book manuscript. We are talking about perhaps 30 pages with very few panels per page. Sure, she kept getting interrupted, but she couldn't have taken 5 minutes to finish it on the first day? Comparitively, the use of cell phones and internet is realistic. It must be frequently challenging to set a novel in current times without ignoring the availability of the internet as an easy solution to all of the characters' problem. Priest gets around this here by rooting the mystery in events from the 1950's. This was a pleasing read, and I will continue to check out Cherie Priest's books as they are released.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I sometimes long to read a good scary story, one that isn't overly supernatural with just the right amount of creeps. And this book comes extremely close to delivering that feeling. Denise has moved to New Orleans with her mother and her stepfather, Mike. The family hasn't been living there since Katrina in which Denise lost her father and grandmother. Denise's mother, Sally, has decided to buy an old house and dreams of turning it into a bed and breakfast. But the house is in disgusting conditi I sometimes long to read a good scary story, one that isn't overly supernatural with just the right amount of creeps. And this book comes extremely close to delivering that feeling. Denise has moved to New Orleans with her mother and her stepfather, Mike. The family hasn't been living there since Katrina in which Denise lost her father and grandmother. Denise's mother, Sally, has decided to buy an old house and dreams of turning it into a bed and breakfast. But the house is in disgusting condition with almost no electricity, a wasp's nest in one of the bedrooms and just a layer of dirt, grime and possibly asbestos. Denise has trouble making friends and encounters the semi annoying Terry, a boy who is convinced that the home that Denise is trying to acclimate herself into may be haunted. Terry comes armed with ghost hunting equipment and uses Denise as a means to explore the house. But then strange stuff starts happening, scents appear; voices are heard over a recorder and a strange comic book is found in the attic. All of these things turn into a book that is about 75 percent realistic fiction, and 25 percent scary story, which in my opinion was just the right amount. The book delivers suspense while appropriate along with some beautifully done comic book style scenes as Denise and her new group of friends read the plot of the Lucida comic book found in the attic. The book had great side characters as well as a fun and typically cynical teenager who is just trying to make the best of her situation.

  29. 4 out of 5

    zapkode

    {My thoughts} – The cover of this book truly intrigued me. There’s a nice little surprise under the dust jacket, that you don’t usually find on hard covered books as well. When I first looked at the cover I was thinking that I was gonna be reading a horror book. I mean, at first glance it certainly seems like one. However, that isn’t all that this little gem is made up of, which makes it all the more brilliant in my opinion. When you first open the book you will notice that the page numbers are w {My thoughts} – The cover of this book truly intrigued me. There’s a nice little surprise under the dust jacket, that you don’t usually find on hard covered books as well. When I first looked at the cover I was thinking that I was gonna be reading a horror book. I mean, at first glance it certainly seems like one. However, that isn’t all that this little gem is made up of, which makes it all the more brilliant in my opinion. When you first open the book you will notice that the page numbers are written in blue, so are the e-mails, text messages, written letters and all the illustrations have a fair amount of blue in them as well. They blue helps to pull you into the story of the book even more so then you’d think it would be able to at first. This book is one of those types that actually has a story written inside of a story, with a story that is being explained from the past. I really enjoy books like this because they help to keep the reader engaged as well as invested in the book. It’s content rating comes from it having some minor curse words within the pages, in the illustrations also show a gun and a knife. I feel it is important for parents to know these things if they are considering letting their younger child read the book. I really think that anyone that enjoys a little bit of horror with a bit of mystery involved will totally love this book. Let us not forget the added little comic spaced out between the pages! It helped to pull the entire story together nicely and helped to make it a brilliantly written book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    I am in all astonishment! I didn't expect to like this book as much as I thought I did. I haven't read a mystery book in a long time, but I picked this book up because a friend found it in a book store (I later went back to get it for her as a birthday present) and because I like mixed media books. The comics are amazing! I loved the black and blue color scheme and Tara O'Connor's gritty artwork worked very well with the story. Secondly I thought Cherie Priest handled the subject matter and the I am in all astonishment! I didn't expect to like this book as much as I thought I did. I haven't read a mystery book in a long time, but I picked this book up because a friend found it in a book store (I later went back to get it for her as a birthday present) and because I like mixed media books. The comics are amazing! I loved the black and blue color scheme and Tara O'Connor's gritty artwork worked very well with the story. Secondly I thought Cherie Priest handled the subject matter and the setting of a post hurricane katrina New Orleans very well. Of course I can't speak for the representation, that being a white teen girl moving into a poorer black neighborhood. But Priest started a conversation by writing about this subject matter, she acknowledged gentrification within the community as well as Denise's bias of coming from one of the 'better off' familys in the neighborhood. I would be very interested to read a review of this book written by someone closer to the subject matter. additionally this side plot was weaved in seamlessly with the main mystery plot line. But it was the mystery I found a little lacking. I loved the setup and the basis of the plot having to do with a 1950's comic writer, but I wasn't every properly scared. I think this just means that I need to find a book that does horrify me just a little bit. I'll have to start looking around.

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