Most allegories must be taken with a grain of salt. No one can never quite get the truth they are attempting to portray exactly correct. Still Dekker and Peretti do a good job with this collabrative effort. House is not very standard as Christian fiction goes. Of course, neither of these authors would qualify as standard Christian writers in anyone’s estimation. This fact is what makes their writings stand out in sharp relief to the rest of the writers in the Christian market. Both men seek to use stories to convey a point and they express their point more explicitly than other writers.
I think that this book could have been done much better, but (and this is important) I am not a standard reader. I suspect that most people will enjoy this story much more than I did.
Let me explain. This is a story about two couples who have suspicious accidents on a dark road in the back woods of Alabama. Both couples walk on foot to the nearest house, which turns out to be an inviting inn. Unbeknownst them, the house is not quite what it appears on the surface. This house is inhabited by their worst imaginations. Soon after arriving, the truth of the house begins to reveal itself and their darker sides come to light. A deranged psychopath and a couple of Alabama inbreds turn this quiet inn into a nightmare home. The psychopath has three rules in this house. Rule #1: God came to my house and I killed Him. Rule #2: I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God. Rule #3: Give me one dead body and I might let rule two slide. The two couples have until dawn to provide a body for the madman or they will all be slaughtered.
This is a story about the person who dwells inside of us – beneath the veneer of civility within which we cloak ourselves.
The story could have focused on the philosophical arguments that each of the characters made (and represented). Instead, Peretti and Dekker chose to minor on the philosophical and major on the adventure/thriller aspects of the story. I find this to be a weak choice for two reasons. First, allegorical stories tend to hinder the development of good drama. The adventure was weakened due to these allegorical elements; this would be normal for any allegory. Second, the point of the allegory should be on the underlying theme, which in this case revolved around the issue of the wicked nature within each of us. By focusing more on the thrills, they seemed to have lost sight of the point.
Still even with those criticisms, I suspect that they deliberately chose to write as they did. They needed a broader audience and they wrote to a broad audience. Writing a more philosophical story would have limited their audience to people like me, which probably isn’t practical. If you don’t mind a moderate level of violence or terror, then pick up this title for a thought provoking read.
As an aside, I poked around the internet to see what other people thought of this story. There were some fairly mixed reviews out on line. (This goes to show that personal taste influences reviews your response to things.) If you have read this work, let me know about it. I am curious about how other people responded to the story. And who do you think wrote the first half and who wrote the second half? I think Dekker wrote the beginning.