Almost everyone in Old Gate can agree that there’s something very wrong with Bliss House. It has a history that’s marred by tragedy, but Rainey Adams doesn’t set any stock in such matters. It’s just a house. The recent incident didn’t even occur in the house itself, but outside on the grounds. And it’s exactly that incident that put Bliss House in Rainey’s budget.
The move to Old Gate is a much-needed fresh start for Rainey and her teenage daughter and Bliss House is the kind of project any interior designer can lose themselves in. It’s exactly what Rainey needs to distract herself from the tragic loss of her husband. But it’s Ariel Rainey hopes will really benefit from the move. The accident that claimed her father’s life also left the girl physically scarred and disfigured. As a result she’s become more sullen with each passing day, even going so far as to refuse to leave the house.
At first, Ariel has mixed feelings about the move: sure it’s an escape from her past but she resents her mother’s efforts. It doesn’t take long for Ariel to warm to their new home, though. She feels a connection to the house and is certain that since moving in her scars have begun to fade and her limbs have begun to strengthen. But Bliss House is changing Ariel in other ways as well. As the house begins to reveal its secrets to the teen, Rainey realizes that Bliss House may not be the salvation she’d once hoped it would be.
Laura Benedict’s latest is just the first of what I hope will be many Bliss House stories to come.
Bliss House features a bit of a dual storyline. Benedict kicks it off with Allison, a young girl newly involved with a young man named Michael. Their budding relationship is anything but rosy, though, and Allison soon finds herself Michael’s prisoner. Decades later Rainey – a Bliss by blood – arrives to once again lay claim to the historic family home. It comes as no surprise then when Benedict quickly reveals to the reader that Rainey had a cousin named Michael who’s been missing for quite some time.
As the story unravels Benedict spins a web of sex and seduction, madness and murder, and love and loss. It’s a haunted house story with many layers, all of which come together to make Bliss House a chilling and atmospheric read.
8/14 Becky Lejeune
BLISS HOUSE by Laura Benedict. Pegasus (June 15, 2014). ISBN 978-1605985725. 400p.