The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

“People like us dont appear in People magazine”, Colquitt Kennedy asserts in the opening line of The House Next Door. Both she and her husband Walter find themselves in the full glare of publicity after they tell the world about the tragic events that have taken place in the house next door. Try as they might to preserve their insulated and privileged lifestyle, the Kennedys sacrifice everything to combat the nameless horror that comes to their cozy neighborhood after a new house is constructed on an adjacent lot.

The novels plot is divided into three main parts, each named for one of the three families that successively purchase the evil house: the Harralsons, the Sheehans, and the Greenes. With each new owner, the house escalates its reign of terror. The Harralsons, a fledgling tax lawyer named Buddy and his extroverted wife, Pie, encounter a string of catastrophes. Pie miscarries in her seventh month by falling down a flight of stairs; small animals, both domestic and wild, are found dismembered on the grounds; in front of a houseful of guests, Buddy and his law partner Lucas Abbott are caught in a naked embrace; and shocked by the assumed homosexual relationship, Pies father has a fatal stroke.

The next couple to move in are Buck Sheehan and his frail wife, Anita, who has only tentatively recovered from a nervous breakdown precipitated by her sons violent death in Vietnam and her husbands subsequent infidelity. The Sheehans are ripe for manipulation....

(The entire section is 613 words.)