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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Audrey Rose

A father is devestated when a firey car crash kills his wife and daughter- Audrey Rose.  Seeking comfort in their passing, Elliot goes for advice from a psychic- who informs him that his daughter has been reincarnated... and is in torment.  Enter Ivy Templeton, a sweet girl whom Elliot is convinced houses his dead daughter's suffering soul.  Is she, and what lengths will Elliot go in order to save his dead daughter?

This 1975 novel by Frank De Felitta came at a time when the New Age movement started gaining popularity.  The idea of reincarnation was catching on, and interest in the supernatural was growing.  Questions about whether or not a soul maintains memories from its previous life when reincarnated were being asked.  What if the previous life ended horribly- would those memories be transferred to the new body?

"Audrey Rose" examines that question, and uses it as the basis for an interesting and eerie read.  Like some of the best horror stories, the scares don't come from and evil being hunting you down... they come from ordinary people and situations being turned upside down for absolutely no reason other than horrifying random chance.  The characters in this book are exactly that- ordinary people... there is no evil person out to spread blood on the walls... just people who could be your neighbours trying to deal with a situation beyond their understanding.  The situations in this book start out ordinary too- but grow less and less ordinary, bringing the characters into a situation that is beyond their control.

And that is the real scare in this book- the loss of control and understanding of what's going on.  Being helpless as things ceaselessly grind towards their painful and shattering conclusion.

De Felitta writes a flowing narrative, giving you a good sense of the envrionment, the people, and the events without being overly descriptive.  He escalates and escalates the tension with each event he puts his characters through, making you relate, care about and empathise with the characters.  How would you react in Elliot's place, believing your daughter's soul was trapped and suffering in another person?  How would you react if you were Janice- Ivy Templeton's mother, and a stranger kept insisting that your daughter was also his daughter?  What would you do if you were faced with the terrifying choices they had to make?

I would have no qualms about reading this fine piece of horror literature on a dark night- with only the crackling fire to keep my company.  I would rate "Audrey Rose" as part of "The Good".

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