Ted Dekker has been a favorite author of mine since high school. And while I knew of Frank Peretti, I didn’t read much by him (and still haven’t, though I did finally read his Darkness series last year). But as I was cataloguing our books recently, I found that my husband has a couple that I haven’t read, so I decided to add them into my reading mix, starting with House, a joint effort between Dekker and Peretti.
Jack and Stephanie are going through the motions of working on their marriage when a series of small mistakes get them lost in Alabama’s backwoods. A strange accident leaves them stranded without a vehicle as night is falling. Hurrying away from the perceived danger, they make their way to the only building for miles around. Inside, they find another couple with a suspiciously similar story but the inn proprietors are missing.
The guests quickly realize they’ve run right into some sort of trap, but they never imagined they would be locked inside and threatened with death unless they embrace their sin and commit murder themselves. They have until sunrise to choose which of their natures they will embrace, and the house will do everything possible to push them toward evil.
House has definitive elements of both Dekker and Peretti’s writing styles. And while it was a good and engaging story, I’m not sure I loved the combination. Peretti often gives evil physical form, as he does in House. Dekker’s style is the twisty wrestling with internal good and evil natures, culminating in a salvation experience. Mixing the two into a supernatural thriller felt almost a little too allegorical. Even though I grasped the symbolism and the story, some parts felt like they were laid on a little thick. Perhaps it’s a story that would have benefited from being shorter.
I also felt like some elements were not fully explored after being introduced. While the whole experience was guided by the evil residing in each “guest,” the transformation of the house seemed a little glossed over, as did the hints that past trauma surrounding the house was responsible for it being susceptible to evil.
That all said, I’ve come to realize that I tend to be a lot more of a literal reader. Though I desperately want to enjoy books full of allegory and symbolism, it often just goes over my head or else hinders my reading experience as I try to wrap my mind around it all. Others I know who enjoy Dekker and Peretti rave about this book, so I’m willing to chalk my experience up to personal preference. Even though it wasn’t my favorite of their books, it was still a good book, a quick read that pulls you in and makes you question what makes a person good or evil.