Friday, July 25, 2014

The Number of the House is 13 / T. R. Sutherland

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Horror/Ghost Story/Short Story

Approximate word count: 6-7,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
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In her day job T.R. Sutherland is a computer programmer. She lives in Florida with her husband and their dog.


“On this street the house was number 13.

For two adventurous cousins, the reputation this house has acquired is based on rumor, and they're determined to find out if there is any truth in it. They decide to explore the house to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. As soon as they approach the house, they become aware of a menacing presence. Their plan was to spend the entire night in the house, but with each passing moment the house slowly comes alive as a cold terror creeps in.

Will they make it through the night?”


I thought this short story started out well. A haunted house is a premise that’s been done before, which means originality is harder to find, yet it is also so well known that the setup is easy. This story started out feeling like one of those tall tales you might relate while sitting around a campfire late at night only with more detail and better descriptions.

The narrator (who I don’t think was ever named) and his cousin, Jett, set off to explore the haunted house. The foundation was set, the tension was building, and then I started seeing holes in the story. A room was described as having thirteen walls, which set my mind off on a tangent, trying to picture how that could be and how plausible it was. One second it is so dark that Jett was groping in the dark, trying to find a candle that had gone out, and the next they’re able to see the detail of the candle well enough to see that it had been “stuffed out” with someone or something pushing the wick into the melted wax rather than blown out. Later they sense two “persons” (presumably ghosts) “with the slightest possible distance between them” go by, yet in the next breath the beings have changed directions with the follower “steadily getting closer.” (I thought they were just as close together as possible.)

A ghost story, like any story containing things most of us are certain don’t exist, requires a reader to suspend disbelief. Usually I’m able. Here, with things I couldn’t picture and what seemed like one sentence contradicting the next, I wasn’t able.

The story ends with the narrator making the statement that he wonders “what was reality and what was nervous delusion.” Unfortunately I was wondering the same thing, only way too early.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: *** Three stars

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