House and Garden
Written by Deb Victoroff
Reading Source: Author (ARC)
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Short Story
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Amazon Book Description: Elise, a socially awkward professional single woman finally buys a piece of real estate – a house with a garden – which she feels she can shape to her own desires. Her need to control her surroundings, her fatal flaw, will never be directed to a human partner. Instead she turns her energy toward taming nature.
She feels the dislike of the townsfolk toward the city people who keep buying up the countryside only to domesticate it to city tastes. Are they behind the creeping dangers that assault her at every turn? Or is there some larger malevolent force in play?
An odd-looking real estate agent has sold her the parcel after the previous owners have abruptly abandoned the house, a bungalow with a creepily over-grown garden. As Elise attempts to weed and groom her property, it seems to fight against her. Bugs bite her, thorns pierce her, gardening tools are ripped from her hands and mysteriously disappear.
I find that science fiction, often times, makes the best short stories. This one, in particular, was enthralling. The premise of the story was chilling – turning something that everyone has, a yard, into a playground for an unknown force that is assumed to be ‘evil.’ Buying a home, working in your yard, and playing with your dog should not be something that is normally suspenseful. Within this story, I find that the best part happens to be the subtle hints of paranormal activity that is found in the details. The ending was appropriate for the genre and length, which is sometimes the most difficult part of a short story. A common misconception is that short stories are easier to write because they are short. That simply is not the case. In having a story be purposefully short, the author must have good overall balance within the story. Too much detail and the story becomes cumbersome, too little and it is uninteresting. House and Garden was balanced very well. The detail provided was descriptive enough to keep the reader engaged, but vague enough to allow the imagination to fill in the blanks and make the story larger that it actually was. This was a very entertaining quick read.
My thanks to Deb Victoroff for the chance to read a thoroughly entertaining story that has made me even more fearful of my shrubs than I already was!
**This review was written by a former reviewer on the old site