This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff

This was the book club choice for October, fitting for the Halloween season.

Alexandra Sokoloff is a local author who wrote one spooky story, The Harrowing.

The Unseen is set in the triangle, basing the storyline on Dr. J.B. Rhine, who coined the term "ESP", who headed a parapsychology department for Duke University; it is no longer affiliated with Duke.

Two psychologists, Laurel and Brendan, from Duke go through the old Rhine lab files, housed in the basement of Duke University. They eventually learn about poltergeist field tests done at a home called "Folger".

Brendan convinces Laurel that they should recreate this mysterious research, in which the original participants died or ended up mentally unstable. Laurel agrees, while being very skeptical of Brendan's intentions.

Two Duke students, the cocky, rich kid Tyler and his equally elitist cohort Katrina, join the psychologists in the Folger house; the goal to live in it for three weeks and record any paranormal activity that occurs.

And indeed it occurs. After a slow, mounting storyline to get to the excitement of the 'things that go bump in the night', the fun begins. Sokoloff makes us wonder, through the eyes of Dr. Laurel, whether any of the initial activity is faked. Is Dr. Brendan behind it? Or is it Tyler? Or is it, in fact, all three of them trying to run a test against Laurel (who happens to have her own abilities).

While I enjoyed Alexandra's writing style - she absolutely writes so vividly that I enter her world with detailed walkthroughs of the house, the university, the trees, everything - I did not get very spooked by the story. I don't know what happened.

The Harrowing scared the crap out of me; The Price had its moments too. But even with genuine paranormal activity (in the novel), I just didn't get spooked. There were some promising parts: seeing the dark figure in the garden, the pastor's visit - that was pretty creepy. But there were also unanswered questions: who was the person that pretty much raped Laurel in the middle of the night? Why did Tyler call Dr. Laurel "sugar", when the nickname was created by him for someone he wanted to seduce...but then ends up calling Katrina that name throughout?

Is there more to Uncle Morgan and the Folger Experiment? He was there in Laurel's visions. If he knew how things were going to end up, why didn't he just say so instead of "Pay attention?"

It seemed to end abruptly; would there be a follow-up? I hope so. I enjoyed the book as a good novel vs. a scary one.

1 comment:

  1. I just started reading this book, so I enjoyed your review!