Review: The Agony House by Cherie Priest

Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn’t seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it’s clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn’t budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive…

The Agony House by Cherie Priest. Illustrated by Tara O’Connor. Narrated by Haven Burton. Published by Scholastic, October 2018. Run time of 6 hours and 53 minutes.

Thank you to Goodreads Giveaway for sending me a copy of this book to review. 🙂

This is such a fun book, but before I get to the review, I want to talk about the story within the story. More specifically, the comic book art and how it was handled both in the physical book and the audio edition.

First, in the physical book, the comic pages are illustrated beautifully by Tara O’Connor. The artwork is so unique in pretty shades of blues and blacks. I loved how the line art is shaded in the blue! It is absolutely mesmerizing, an almost retro 3D noir feel.

I was very curious at how they (the publisher) translated the comicbook sections to an audiobook format. When I saw my local library had an audiobook copy to check out, I did! I read about half of the book and then switched over to the audio version to see how everything was handled.

The audio version of the comic is cleverly done like an old time radio program from the 1940s- 50s, which is the time frame the comic is from. When the characters in the novel open up and begin to read the comic, all of a sudden you have background sound effects, music and a full cast! It was so easy to tell the audio change in the format. I compared the physical art as I listened along. Everything important to see in the art is perfectly described in the audio drama format. You can still get the full comic story.

The narrators all did a fantastic. The radio drama cast played their parts well. The main narrator nailed the different ages perfectly. The teens sounded like teens. The parents sounded like parents. 😀 Regional accents were on point.

So, how was everything else, you ask? Awesome!

Let me start with the story. The Agony House is just straight up fun. It’s a fun mystery, with a little bit of horror. More supernatural ghosty stuff then horror HORROR, you know? I loved how the story is centered around a pulp comic! I love this author and it just made me so…. giddy…. seeing her talk about pulp comics. 😀 The twist at the ending was perfect.

The characters in this book are just adorable. I wanted to hang out with all of them! The parents aren’t obnoxious, the teens aren’t horrible, and the villian is just right. Nobody acted in a dumb way, you know? Everyone felt very real.

I really connected with the main character. I moved out of state when I was in school, so I easily understood how she felt being the new kid in a new house in a new neighborhood. I totally understood how it felt leaving everything behind and starting all over again. I think we all know what it feels like to be a “new kid”. It never came across as whiny or angsty. It was just easy to relate to.

The Agony House is such an entertaining ghost story. This is a YA story, and never gets too spooky or creepy. If you want that, go read her adult ghost stories, such as The Family Plot or The Toll. Agony House had a little bit of creep factor but mostly a wonderful murder mystery with ghosts. Anyone who likes a good sleuthing with some ghosts will want to check out The Agony House.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s