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Twelve Nights at Rotter House

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Felix Allsey is a travel writer with a keen eye for the paranormal, and he's carved out a unique, if only slightly lucrative, niche for himself in nonfiction; he writes travelogues of the country's most haunted places, after haunting them himself. When he convinces the owner of the infamous Rotterdam Mansion to let him stay on the premises for 13 nights, he believes he's Felix Allsey is a travel writer with a keen eye for the paranormal, and he's carved out a unique, if only slightly lucrative, niche for himself in nonfiction; he writes travelogues of the country's most haunted places, after haunting them himself. When he convinces the owner of the infamous Rotterdam Mansion to let him stay on the premises for 13 nights, he believes he's finally found the location that will bring him a bestseller. As with his other gigs, he sets rules for himself: no leaving the house for any reason, refrain from outside contact, and sleep during the day. When Thomas Ruth, Felix's oldest friend and fellow horror film obsessive, joins him on the project, the two dance around a recent and unspeakably painful rough-patch in their friendship, but eventually fall into their old rhythms of dark humor and movie trivia. That's when things start going wrong: screams from upstairs, figures in the thresholds, and more than what should be in any basement. Felix realizes the book he's writing, and his very state of mind, is tilting from nonfiction into all out horror, and the shocking climax answers a question that's been staring these men in the face all along: In Rotter House, who's haunting who?


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Felix Allsey is a travel writer with a keen eye for the paranormal, and he's carved out a unique, if only slightly lucrative, niche for himself in nonfiction; he writes travelogues of the country's most haunted places, after haunting them himself. When he convinces the owner of the infamous Rotterdam Mansion to let him stay on the premises for 13 nights, he believes he's Felix Allsey is a travel writer with a keen eye for the paranormal, and he's carved out a unique, if only slightly lucrative, niche for himself in nonfiction; he writes travelogues of the country's most haunted places, after haunting them himself. When he convinces the owner of the infamous Rotterdam Mansion to let him stay on the premises for 13 nights, he believes he's finally found the location that will bring him a bestseller. As with his other gigs, he sets rules for himself: no leaving the house for any reason, refrain from outside contact, and sleep during the day. When Thomas Ruth, Felix's oldest friend and fellow horror film obsessive, joins him on the project, the two dance around a recent and unspeakably painful rough-patch in their friendship, but eventually fall into their old rhythms of dark humor and movie trivia. That's when things start going wrong: screams from upstairs, figures in the thresholds, and more than what should be in any basement. Felix realizes the book he's writing, and his very state of mind, is tilting from nonfiction into all out horror, and the shocking climax answers a question that's been staring these men in the face all along: In Rotter House, who's haunting who?

30 review for Twelve Nights at Rotter House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.5 Stars This might be the most fun I have ever had reading a haunted house story! Video Review: https://youtu.be/DzfRfr_TksE While I love reading horror, I often struggle when reading haunted house stories. I just find that the subgenre tends to be overdone and exhausted. So it is always a wonderful experience when I find a haunted house story that actually feels fresh. So often, I find haunted house stories to be quite slow, but this one moved along at a good pace. I was pulled into the story 4.5 Stars This might be the most fun I have ever had reading a haunted house story! Video Review: https://youtu.be/DzfRfr_TksE While I love reading horror, I often struggle when reading haunted house stories. I just find that the subgenre tends to be overdone and exhausted. So it is always a wonderful experience when I find a haunted house story that actually feels fresh. So often, I find haunted house stories to be quite slow, but this one moved along at a good pace. I was pulled into the story from the first chapter and stayed immerse the entire time, flying through the pages in just a few days. I tend to prefer shorter horror fiction and I thought this novel was just about the perfect length.  Told in first person perspective, I found the main character, Felix, to be an entertaining narrator. The story was filled with good humour as the characters poked fun at the cliches of the haunted house genre. As someone who does not believe in the supernatural, I particularly loved reading from the perspective of a fellow skeptic. This story was also incredibly meta. From the start, the characters were completely aware that they were acting out a haunted house story, purposely recreating the classic trope of the subgenre. Further to that, the characters made so many pop culture references to haunted house movies and books. Some readers might find these sections a bit excessive, but I personally really enjoyed fangirling over all the references. Given all these meta aspects, I think this book will appeal to readers who loved Kill Creek by Scott Thomas, which is another self-aware haunted house narrative.  While this novel felt like a fresh take on the haunted house story, I would still consider the actual plot to be quite predictable. The characters purposely played out the cliches of the genre and experienced the creepy results that one would expect. Other reviewers have gushed about a twist ending, but I correctly predicted most of the ending within a few chapters. Granted, I should acknowledge that I probably consume more horror than the average reader so I am very familiar with the various horror story endings. Unfortunately, this happened to be one that I have read too many times. I was slightly let down by the ending, only because I thought it would be unguessable, yet I still thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the story. Overall, this novel was an absolute blast to read and one I will likely reread in the future. I would highly recommend it to any horror fiction reader looking for a gripping house story that is smart and self aware.  Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher, Turner Publishing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror

    Review originally published in SCREAM Mag Nov/Dec 2019 The premise of this one goes like this, Felix Allsey writes travelogues of notorious haunted houses. He finds one called, Rotterdam Mansion that’s a little under the radar--not much information on it. Felix decides he will spend thirteen nights in the haunted house with nothing but basic essentials and a trail camera to video everything. It’s the perfect horror story set up! Two chapters in and I was pretty hooked. I’m always one to show up Review originally published in SCREAM Mag Nov/Dec 2019 The premise of this one goes like this, Felix Allsey writes travelogues of notorious haunted houses. He finds one called, Rotterdam Mansion that’s a little under the radar--not much information on it. Felix decides he will spend thirteen nights in the haunted house with nothing but basic essentials and a trail camera to video everything. It’s the perfect horror story set up! Two chapters in and I was pretty hooked. I’m always one to show up for a quality haunted house story. Somewhere along the line, the main character’s friend shows up. I wasn’t even entirely sure if I was on board with there being two people spending the night, things felt creepier when it was just the one guy. My skepticism proved correct. Alex’s friend, Thomas is a bit of a chatty-cathy and the two men get into these long conversations about the past and their friendship that made me want to skip ahead. They also play this game several times called “Film Fight”--a movie trivia game that would probably be really cool for horror cinephiles but for someone with basic horror-movie knowledge, those chapters (yes, whole chapters) were boring. The parts are broken into “Night One” and “Night Two” and so on, by Night Six, nothing very eventful has happened in the house. There was one paranormal event that got me all excited but then the men talked about it to death and took all the fun out of it. Later, the men explore their friendship (again) and the demise of what once was a healthy relationship between them. They reminisce about the old times of when they would hang out--Alex and Thomas and each other wives. Some uncomfortable memories begin to surface creating tension between the two friends. All the while, they are sitting in a haunted house and I was getting impatient with their lack of enthusiasm about their surroundings. Check on that trail camera for crying out loud! The climax and conclusion could be easily spoiled and I am one who protects reader discovery at all costs so I won’t even hint at what happens towards the end of the book but the story does take a dark and unexpected turn that I really enjoyed. I’m just afraid that it was too little, too late. 2 out of 5 skulls

  3. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    Felix Allsey is a travel writer. Well, he wants to be a travel writer....one that focuses on the macabre. But his previous works have been largely ignored. So, he decides to spend 13 nights totally immersed in a haunted house. No leaving the house. No contact with the outside world. Just the house. Nothing else. No electricity. No internet. No cell phone. No distractions. And it's not just any haunted house. It's Rotterdam Mansion. Or Rotter House, for short. In its 200 years, the house can Felix Allsey is a travel writer. Well, he wants to be a travel writer....one that focuses on the macabre. But his previous works have been largely ignored. So, he decides to spend 13 nights totally immersed in a haunted house. No leaving the house. No contact with the outside world. Just the house. Nothing else. No electricity. No internet. No cell phone. No distractions. And it's not just any haunted house. It's Rotterdam Mansion. Or Rotter House, for short. In its 200 years, the house can boast 3 stories, 40 rooms, 3 suicides, 8 murders, 2 deaths of undetermined cause, 4 deaths of a weird sort, 2 disappearances, and a stint as hideaway for a murderer. Not to mention its years as a boarding house of ill repute and a bordello. Felix is determined to stay for 13 nights in the house. He even invites a friend to join him. His friendship with Thomas has been on the rocks for awhile....and maybe this adventure will help work things out. I love haunted house stories, so thoroughly enjoyed this book! There are a lot of film and book references sprinkled in the dialogue between Felix and Thomas. I took many reading breaks to check if certain films were on Netflix or Amazon Prime.....and to check if my library had a copy of certain classic haunted house stories. Not to mention all the reading breaks for looking up the history of Ouija boards, the Amityville Horror scandal, Gail Russell's difficulties on the set of The Univited, etc. I have enough horror films and creepy books on a list to last me for a few months. :) Fun! This story is a tale about a haunted house....but also a story about the relationship between Felix and Thomas. They talk a lot while investigating the house. I liked how their friendship and investigating the house intertwined together. The story definitely kept my attention from start to finish. It is well-written, definitely creepy in spots, and the ending was great! This is the first book by J.W. Ocker that I've read. I like his writing style, all the movie/book references and the plot. I will definitely be reading more of his work! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Chaney

    Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can check out my full video review HERE. I've been a fan of Ocker's for a few years now. His love of the spooky and macabre is infectious, and I find myself revisiting his nonfiction book A Season with the Witch on a regular basis, so when I heard he was working on his first horror novel, it quickly became one of my most anticipated books of the year. Overall, it did not disappoint. Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can check out my full video review HERE. I've been a fan of Ocker's for a few years now. His love of the spooky and macabre is infectious, and I find myself revisiting his nonfiction book A Season with the Witch on a regular basis, so when I heard he was working on his first horror novel, it quickly became one of my most anticipated books of the year. Overall, it did not disappoint. This is a meta take on the haunted house subgenre, referencing many other books and films about haunted houses as well as turning those basic tropes on their heads. It's a fun read that gave me the creeps once or twice and kept me invested in the characters' drama. 4 stars. Highly recommended!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    "The first floor had plenty of furniture, surely bought and left by countless past residents who dared call this behemoth home. When you flee in terror, you rarely stop for the ottomans." This was not at all what I was expecting from what sounded like a "typical haunted house" novel. Yes Felix moves into an abandoned house in order to write a book about his experiences, but from the start the alleged haunted history of this home is a bit vague which only serves to emphasize that it may not be the "The first floor had plenty of furniture, surely bought and left by countless past residents who dared call this behemoth home. When you flee in terror, you rarely stop for the ottomans." This was not at all what I was expecting from what sounded like a "typical haunted house" novel. Yes Felix moves into an abandoned house in order to write a book about his experiences, but from the start the alleged haunted history of this home is a bit vague which only serves to emphasize that it may not be the main theme in this story. Enter Thomas, the estranged best friend. We don't really know why these former best buds have stopped speaking to each other, only that Felix has reached out to him for help with his book and although it is the first time they've bothered with each other in a year, Thomas has agreed. The pace is a bit slow here and we are given only the briefest of hints as to what could have caused their falling out. At this point I thought I had it all figured out and that the ghosts were not meant to be literal but whether or not this ghost of a friendship could be resurrected from it's death. I can't share much more of my thought process or tell you if I was right or wrong in my assumptions without ruining the reveal at the end but I will say that although it was a leisurely arrival the pay off was with the wait. I received an advance copy for review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    3.5 Stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary | Empathy Shouldn't Be That Hard To Understand, People.

    Review to come. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book was simultaneously not at all, and exactly, what I expected. In a good way. I wanted a spooky story that found a way to expand beyond the common tropes, and this definitely delivered! The story doesn't take itself too seriously until it's too late and you're invested, and then it blows up in your face. Solid, very enjoyable, will read again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kallie (pageandparlor) Lou Weisgarber

    Felix Allsey is a cocky travel writer. He is a sceptic that writes about the haunted places that he visits. He convinces the owner of the Rotterdam Mansion, or Rotter House, to let him stay there with no contact with the outside world for 13 nights. He is convinced that this book will put him on the best seller’s list.When his best friend, Thomas, joins him for the 13 night project, things start going wrong. Felix has to face the fact that just maybe, he is haunted. I really enjoyed this book. It Felix Allsey is a cocky travel writer. He is a sceptic that writes about the haunted places that he visits. He convinces the owner of the Rotterdam Mansion, or Rotter House, to let him stay there with no contact with the outside world for 13 nights. He is convinced that this book will put him on the best seller’s list.When his best friend, Thomas, joins him for the 13 night project, things start going wrong. Felix has to face the fact that just maybe, he is haunted. I really enjoyed this book. It started out as one genre and then completely turned on its head into another genre. As i’m sitting to write this review, I am really mad that I didn’t catch the hints throughout the book as to how it would end. Because those hints are there, in plain sight, waiting for you to pick up on them. But you won’t. Not until you finish it and sit down to write a review on it. Firstly, it’s a great concept. Especially if you’re like me and you’re constantly analyzing character dialogue and writing techniques because Ocker literally has the characters talk about those things. The concept also provides a ready reason for why they don’t leave the house and why they don’t have lights or a phone. Those are all of the things I think about when reading a haunted house book. Why don’t they turn on the lights? Why are these people still here? Why don’t they call someone? I loved that it was so meta. They knew they were acting out this haunted house story, and fully intended to act out all of the classic haunted house tropes. I love that there is this mystery between the two friends that has put their friendship on rough waters. There are hints at this mystery that are laid out until it’s finally revealed and the characters are forced to talk about it and work their way through it. While each of them is having this internal conflict, they are also dealing with this haunted house. Acting out tropes and receiving the expected results: mysterious noises, ghostly figures, and of course there is a creepy dumbwaiter that has a surprise in it’s gut. I do think that the novel was a bit slow. There seemed to be so little happening for so long. There was witty banter of friends and exploring the house, but there was no real action until the second half of the book, with most of it packed in the last quarter. I just wanted there to be more happening in the first half instead of just hearing a scream once or twice. All of the signs of the haunting in this book were just enough to keep me interested. J. W. Ocker did a great job at giving us ghosts and a haunting without really giving us much detail about the ghosts or the haunting. A scream here, a shadow there, all in perfect timing to keep the suspense up. It was also really nice to read this book from a skeptic’s point of view. Felix was constantly trying to rationalize everything. He made sure to talk about how the Ouija Board is sold at toy stores and made by toy companies. Thomas was the believer of the two and the conversations they had about the paranormal were really interesting. Those conversations also gave us some good background on each character. I loved the ending of this book. I definitely did not predict what was going to happen, but looking back it’s like, “How did I miss that?” And that twist ending is the whole reason this book changes it’s sub genre. If it had stayed on its course in supernatural horror, I probably would rate it around 2.5 stars. But because it changed the direction, it changed the whole story and I am rating it at 4 stars. It lost a star for how slow the first half of the book was. Overall, this book was fresh and at the same time it repeated all the classic haunted house tropes with a unique look. It was fun to read and I FLEW through the second half of the book. I recommend it to all horror film buffs, haunted house fans, and anyone looking for a crazy twist ending. Twelve Nights at Rotter House is smart and self aware and will take you by surprise.

  10. 5 out of 5

    J.A. Sullivan

    Felix has a feeling that his next nonfiction book, Thirteen Nights at Rotter House, is going to be the one to launch him into financial success. He invites his friend, Thomas, to join an investigation of this haunted house so the resulting book will be balanced between his own skepticism and Thomas’s beliefs in the paranormal. But that’s not the only motive. A year ago, their friendship was broken, and Felix is desperate to repair the rift. Since the title of the actual book is Twelve Nights at Felix has a feeling that his next nonfiction book, Thirteen Nights at Rotter House, is going to be the one to launch him into financial success. He invites his friend, Thomas, to join an investigation of this haunted house so the resulting book will be balanced between his own skepticism and Thomas’s beliefs in the paranormal. But that’s not the only motive. A year ago, their friendship was broken, and Felix is desperate to repair the rift. Since the title of the actual book is Twelve Nights at Rotter House, we know something is going to prevent Felix from reaching his final intended evening in the location, and that was the only thing that kept me reading the novel through to the end. Slow burns are one thing, but this book is more like watching a glacier melt, ending in a small calving. I don’t mind a slow burn approach to horror, but there needs to be a buildup of tension in the overall plot and insight into the characters. What disappointed me most was some of the passages, especially early on, were well written with unique perspectives and descriptions, however as the story continued there was a lot of repetition of phrases and actions. Layered with terrific atmosphere, the first two nights in Rotter House (ending with chapter seven) introduces the characters, describes the supremely creepy setting, and details some of the bizarre and horrific deaths of the home’s past. It produced that wonderful feeling of settling in for an intense ride. However, after the initial set up the novel stagnates until around the ninth night (chapter twenty-three). That’s not to say nothing happens in the story. Events do occur, like the use of a Ouija board, porcelain dolls seeming to have moved on their own, and disembodied screams piercing the night. The problem is the approach to the actions. For example, several times Felix says something like “If I were writing a piece of fiction, I wouldn’t dream of using the overused concept of [Ouija board, unexplained noises, a character as a ghost, etc.], but since this is nonfiction I will.” Having him make fun of tired horror motifs once or twice would feel natural coming from his skeptical stance, but the story relies on this response too often. Also, when something does happen, the characters discuss the occurrences to death, dissolving the tension. As for the character development, even though the story is told from Felix’s first-person perspective, very little is revealed about him. There’s ample room through the novel to dig deeper into his innermost thoughts and his past, to create a bond between the reader and character, and by not establishing this connection I was left in a state of apathy. This is one of those books where too much information is held back from the reader as an attempt to intensify the twist ending, but instead creates a void through the middle. *Disclaimer: I received a copy of this work by the author in exchange for an honest review. * **This review first appeared on http://kendallreviews.com/ **

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (readlingoctopus714) Turner

    I think I'll start at the end with this one....the ending is going to take you by surprise. Just trust me, it will. All of the hints are there throughout the story, you just don't realize they are right in front of your face until you get to those last few chapters. Then, you will say to yourself "OMG! How did I not see that? How did I not put those pieces all together?" The ending is what makes this book! So back to the beginning-- Felix Allsey is a travel writer who writes about haunted places I think I'll start at the end with this one....the ending is going to take you by surprise. Just trust me, it will. All of the hints are there throughout the story, you just don't realize they are right in front of your face until you get to those last few chapters. Then, you will say to yourself "OMG! How did I not see that? How did I not put those pieces all together?" The ending is what makes this book! So back to the beginning-- Felix Allsey is a travel writer who writes about haunted places he visits, and he has a great new idea for his book. He will spend thirteen nights in the famed haunted Rotterdam Mansion (Rotter House) and document every second of his experience and encounters through journals and video footage. He is a paranormal skeptic, so he goes into the stay interested in the experience, but rationalizing every little thing that happens. And then in walks his friend Thomas, who will surprisingly be Felix's companion for the thirteen night stay, and we quickly learn that something happened between the two to cause their friendship to become rocky at best. Each time the two heard a noise, or saw a shadow, Felix would try to explain it as a anything except paranormal, and Thomas (being more of a believer) would be more interested in investigating. The story started out as a bit of a slow burner for me. I felt like it was a story really desperately wanting to be a haunted house story, but was instead just falling into so many haunted house cliches. I spent a good portion of the story waiting for something drastic to happen. You get little hints all throughout of scariness (seeing a shadow here, hearing creepy noises there, unexplained things happening), but nothing BIG happens until the very end, and then, WOAH! It really all comes together. Then, in these last few chapters, it's almost as if the entire genre has changed and that this can no longer be pegged as a horror story, because it ends up being so much more. The last few chapters of the book are what gave it the 4 stars. That genre redefining towards the end was phenomenally done. I couldn't give it a full 5 stars simply because I felt like the first maybe 60-70% of the book I was waiting for some action. Thank you Turner Publishing Company for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    Twelve Nights at Rotter House was a random library pick. IT also turn out to be one of the creepiest horror books that I have read in a long time. In the story, Felix is a not so successful travel writer who likes to investigate and write about creepy places in the world. He is not a believer, but is open to having his mind changed. He is hoping Rotter House will give him the comeback book that he needs to make money. This would make a great horror movie. The twist ending was a genuine surprise. Twelve Nights at Rotter House was a random library pick. IT also turn out to be one of the creepiest horror books that I have read in a long time. In the story, Felix is a not so successful travel writer who likes to investigate and write about creepy places in the world. He is not a believer, but is open to having his mind changed. He is hoping Rotter House will give him the comeback book that he needs to make money. This would make a great horror movie. The twist ending was a genuine surprise. I thought the story was going in one direction and I was completely wrong. The author did a great job of building tension and setting a perfect spooky atmosphere. The characters were interesting, that includes that house. It takes on a personality of it own. This is definitely not a book to read when you are at home alone. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a good haunted house book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Mr Ocker did not disappoint. A tale with terrific chills. I really enjoyed it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Greene

    Hauntingly raw and beautifully written.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tabatha Yee

    I enjoyed all the pop culture horror references but the book was highly predictable. I would definitely read another book by this author.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. First of all... The cover completely mislead me to believe that this was an actual psychological horror/thriller type novel. What I got was more of a...drama, bromance, and jump-scare kind of deal. The beginning of the book started out okay with building up the scene that leads to the familiar feel of the start of a haunted house novel; Man tries to get into legendary haunted house for a book deal and sets to plan out his camp out for 12 days. But man...those first two nights in that house were First of all... The cover completely mislead me to believe that this was an actual psychological horror/thriller type novel. What I got was more of a...drama, bromance, and jump-scare kind of deal. The beginning of the book started out okay with building up the scene that leads to the familiar feel of the start of a haunted house novel; Man tries to get into legendary haunted house for a book deal and sets to plan out his camp out for 12 days. But man...those first two nights in that house were brutal. I mean that in the sense that it was just slow. It was like reading a novelization of "Haunted House Hunters" on TLC than anything else, but I digress. The introduction of Thomas got the novel moving to a bit of a faster momentum (or maybe I was just beginning to skim to some of the "hopefully" interesting parts), but I was more entertained mostly by their humorous antics in the house than being afraid for my life. Keep in mind...still nothing scary. Maybe a mysterious sighting or noise here and there, but nothing that set my mind on edge or raised the hairs in the back of my neck. Then! Things start to get interesting with some telenovela tropes with Elsa cheating on Felix with Thomas and that set things to HUGE levels of suspense. "Was he going to murder Thomas in a fit of rage?" "Was this going to end in a fight that leaves two of our main characters the actual ghosts of the Rotter House?" I had to pause for a second to get my bearings settled because I was more, "Holy shit, I did NOT see this coming!!" After screaming and freaking out for a good while and settling down with some calming tea, I forced myself into the last few chapters of the book. I'm very mixed with how I felt about the ending. Honestly, I felt that as much as it was an interesting twist of events, it almost seemed like it was smacked on there to give the book a "horrifying" conclusion. Give readers an "A-Ha!" moment. I was unfortunately not buying it. There was so much potential that could have been added to parts of the book to give readers the anticipation of that ending instead of getting this surprise thrown at their faces. All in all, it was not a terrible book, but I would definitely not recommend this to anyone who is not patient enough to read through a few chapters of slow build up until the middle of the book when things start to get slightly interesting. I would also not recommend this book for anyone in search of a horror novel to read. I would label this book more of a drama/bromance/suspense novel, but horror? Nope. Still pretty fun read, though!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    I've been in a real horror book mood lately, so when I found this book at BookExpo while I was there for work, I was delighted to take a copy for review. In fact, it was one of only 2 books I grabbed there this year, so suffice it to say, it stuck out to me. That's also why I'm writing a review, which I haven't done much lately--I thought there was something special to this book. Twelve Nights at Rotter House is a horror book for people who appreciate horror tropes, especially horror movies, but I've been in a real horror book mood lately, so when I found this book at BookExpo while I was there for work, I was delighted to take a copy for review. In fact, it was one of only 2 books I grabbed there this year, so suffice it to say, it stuck out to me. That's also why I'm writing a review, which I haven't done much lately--I thought there was something special to this book. Twelve Nights at Rotter House is a horror book for people who appreciate horror tropes, especially horror movies, but also like works of fiction with a literary touch. It's eerie, but not overly scary, so you get all the fun parts of horror with none of the nightmares (at least in my case). The overall story seems straightforward: In a last attempt at fame and fortune, a struggling nonfiction author decides that rather than simply writing about haunted houses and histories, he needs to write a book that fully immerses the reader in what it's like to be in a haunted house. So he decides to go live in a genuine haunted house for 13 nights and document his experience as a last-ditch effort to create a bestseller. He even enlists his best friend (a believer in supernatural things and fellow horror movie buff) to come keep him company (albeit reluctantly). But of course, even though he's a total skeptic, some eerie, inexplicable events begin happening to him while stationed there. Things he can't explain, and things that his best friend is positive are supernatural. And before long, he can't deny that something horrible has happened--something that may just come back from the dead to haunt him. This book had a lot of strengths. With its great writing, a compelling, well paced plot, and an immersive ambiance portrayed through vivid descriptions of Rotter House and its bloody history, I felt very invested in the story. The only critique I have is that this book is a little too self-aware, making statements along the lines of "if this were fiction, XYZ would happen, but it's real." It makes sense for the first-person narrator to include sentiments like these, as they're exactly the kind of thing an overly-pompous writer would say about their own work, but I found this metafictional element a little tedious and a slightly overdone trope in itself. Still, points for believability, and I can't say it really bothered me. I also admit that I called a couple of things that would happen, but even if you do guess aspects of the plot before they're revealed, it really doesn't spoil anything. In this case, the journey really was more important. If you like twists and turns that are mixed with a slow, careful burn toward a clever conclusion, you'll enjoy this book. Really excited to read more from this author!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I received this book thanks to Turner publishing company in exchange for an honest review and all these opinions are of my own. This book is released at the perfect time, October 29, 2019!!! The main character, Felix Allsey, is a freelance writer who's a skeptic of paranormal happenings. He stays at an infamous haunted house "Rotter House" to write a book and maybe get that "first experience." It has everything you want in a ghost story and more, but what made it unique was coming from the other I received this book thanks to Turner publishing company in exchange for an honest review and all these opinions are of my own. This book is released at the perfect time, October 29, 2019!!! The main character, Felix Allsey, is a freelance writer who's a skeptic of paranormal happenings. He stays at an infamous haunted house "Rotter House" to write a book and maybe get that "first experience." It has everything you want in a ghost story and more, but what made it unique was coming from the other point of view, the skeptic. So, as we delve into this book, it has everything that you would expect from your average ghost haunted house story, BUT as you continue flying through the pages like I did (ripping through them) the middle to ending slams you through a twist you don't see coming at all. That ending is what makes this book an absolute 5 star read for me. The author leaves little crumbs throughout the story to let you guess how it will end, I seen a few and guessed a few, but not everything and that made it totally worthy of one of the best ghost stories this year for me. If you will, it was part haunted house part psychological thriller in a way. It has all the parts to mess with your mind and it left me with me scrapping my jaw off the floor if that answers if you should get this. YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE if you're a fan of horror movie, ghost stories, haunted houses, psychological thrillers, and all the goodness of spookiness! I loved it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angel Hench

    Felix Allsey doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he’s a travel writer whose books about spooky travel destinations don’t sell very well and he NEEDS this next book to be his big break. Enter his mission to survive 13 nights in the haunted Rotterdam Mansion. I quite enjoy meta fiction and the characters in this book spend a LOT of time referencing the fact that they are going to be in a book about their “haunted house” experience. Felix has to work really hard in Rotter House to keep his disbelief in Felix Allsey doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he’s a travel writer whose books about spooky travel destinations don’t sell very well and he NEEDS this next book to be his big break. Enter his mission to survive 13 nights in the haunted Rotterdam Mansion. I quite enjoy meta fiction and the characters in this book spend a LOT of time referencing the fact that they are going to be in a book about their “haunted house” experience. Felix has to work really hard in Rotter House to keep his disbelief in check, and lots of fun is to be had in watching him explain away all of the “supernatural” things that are happening around him. Between the hauntings, the history of the house and the two men’s relationship, there is a lot of material to mine and I quite enjoyed the pace of the book. You may have to try this one out to see for yourself. If you are looking for a haunted house story, then probably add this to your list - unless you hate meta horror. Then hard pass for you! Also, I just realized that the author is ACTUALLY a spooky travel writer IRL (whose book A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts I read in preparation for my Salem trip), so add 1 more layer to that meta thing, lol. This is also a book where I’m unsure about how I feel about the ending (it seems to be a trend in my reading right now)...I’ve been thinking about this for over a week. How did you feel about the ending? (A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steve Brady

    When I was a teenager I used to breeze through novels in two or three sittings, becoming completely immersed in the narrative, forgetting to deal with the real world responsibilities knocking on my door. But then came, jobs that turned into a career and marriage which became a family, and my reading habits had to change. These days a decent novel can take me a couple weeks to get through. And to be honest, I miss those days when I could just get totally lost in a book for 48 hours. JW Ocker's When I was a teenager I used to breeze through novels in two or three sittings, becoming completely immersed in the narrative, forgetting to deal with the real world responsibilities knocking on my door. But then came, jobs that turned into a career and marriage which became a family, and my reading habits had to change. These days a decent novel can take me a couple weeks to get through. And to be honest, I miss those days when I could just get totally lost in a book for 48 hours. JW Ocker's new book "Twelve Nights at Rotterhouse" just made me do just that. Even though the horror genre is completely my jam, I have largely given haunted house stories a pass. But I have been a fan of Ocker's nonfiction and was curious about his first foray into adult fiction, so I figured I'd give it a shot. His trademark voice, which is what I have always liked most about his nonfiction is still there, but with Rotterhouse his imagination really takes flight. This is one haunted house that will, well, haunt me for a while. And that ending...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Blatchford

    Well done. I’m not usually into horror, but decided to read this on a whim. The author does a great job of giving little clues, but not giving it all away. I agree with another reviewer who said they wanted to go re-read it and look for hints the author laid down along the way. I didn’t see the twist coming until Ocker revealed it, and then had the Ohhhhh moment. Fans of the genre (especially horror movies) will appreciate all the references to niche movies Felix and Thomas discuss. I hadn’t Well done. I’m not usually into horror, but decided to read this on a whim. The author does a great job of giving little clues, but not giving it all away. I agree with another reviewer who said they wanted to go re-read it and look for hints the author laid down along the way. I didn’t see the twist coming until Ocker revealed it, and then had the Ohhhhh moment. Fans of the genre (especially horror movies) will appreciate all the references to niche movies Felix and Thomas discuss. I hadn’t seen any of the movies, but I was still able to enjoy their conversations and get the gist of what Ocker was conveying. I can only imagine that for aficionados, it would be so much fun to see old favorites peppered into the story. Overall, a good read and while for sure in the horror genre, it wasn’t so disturbing that I couldn’t get wrapped up in the story. I was provided an advance copy for review. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Sullivan

    A Season With the Witch, Poe-Land, and the Grimpendiums are practically everything I'm looking for when I read nonfiction, so I was excited to hear that J.W. Ocker was releasing a haunted house novel. I'm not going to start my next thought with a 'however' or an 'unfortunately' because I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of haunted house books. My criticism is that there are two separate novels here, and it feels like the editor didn't do their due diligence in A Season With the Witch, Poe-Land, and the Grimpendiums are practically everything I'm looking for when I read nonfiction, so I was excited to hear that J.W. Ocker was releasing a haunted house novel. I'm not going to start my next thought with a 'however' or an 'unfortunately' because I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of haunted house books. My criticism is that there are two separate novels here, and it feels like the editor didn't do their due diligence in encouraging Ocker to make a choice in terms of what story he wanted to tell. Ocker presents the house with the sort of care and detail that he gives to his nonfiction work. He builds all this character and history into the house, and then oddly fades the story of the house in favor of starting from scratch to focus of the main character's relationship with his best friend. It's jarring, practically a move from analytic observation to Sturm und Drang. Other reviewers have commented that they want to go reread to look for clues to the ending of the latter story. But the clues aren't very good. It's fine not giving hints to a twist ending (see: Friday the 13th) but there has to be some sort of narrative plot mending to explain to the reader the underpinning logic within which the author was working. There are awkward breaks in the flow of the narrative that I believe were meant to to be hints at things not being what they seem, an odd usage of a pre-planned visit from a friend as an element of mystery, and there was a thin attempt at unreliable-narrator-is-suddenly-reliable. But as a reader I was left disappointed that the haunted house wasn't really given a proper part to play in the main conflict of the story. By the end, it didn't really matter if the house was haunted or not, because the final act could've played out anywhere.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Hein

    I'm about two-thirds finished but I wanted to post a review before Halloween. I read as many ghost stories as I can get my hands on, and most fail to scare me. Too many extravagant and completely unbelievable elements lift me from my "suspension of disbelief." Not so with "Twelve Nights at Rotter House"; I am completely engrossed. The chills are thrills are building slowly but steadily. If you love a well-written, smart ghost story with believable characters, get your hands on this story before I'm about two-thirds finished but I wanted to post a review before Halloween. I read as many ghost stories as I can get my hands on, and most fail to scare me. Too many extravagant and completely unbelievable elements lift me from my "suspension of disbelief." Not so with "Twelve Nights at Rotter House"; I am completely engrossed. The chills are thrills are building slowly but steadily. If you love a well-written, smart ghost story with believable characters, get your hands on this story before Halloween. You won't be sorry (or maybe you will - bwahahaha.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Woman In Time

    Ocker always makes me laugh, and this book was no exception. He writes some exceptionally creepy scenes in this book, but I loved how the story pokes fun at itself by pointing out the horror tropes throughout. This story had me questioning myself from start to finish, and left me reeling at the end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Becka

    Go buy this book and read it right now! Compelling, fantastic, and full of pop culture references that fit in seamlessly, this book caught me in the feels! If you're looking for something that will make you laugh, but also compulsively turn the page all while keeping you up at night (or looking for shadow figures after you turn the lights off), this is for you.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I do love a good haunted house story. I am always on the hunt for something that keeps me guessing and wondering what may be lurking around the corner. I got that with this book. Once I read the end, I wanted to start re-reading it because I feel that the author did a nice job of peppering clues throughout and I want to see what I missed the first time around.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Renny Barcelos

    This was surprisingly good! I thought it'd be just another cliche haunted house story (and the whole point of the book is kind of joking about it) but it was really nothing like I expected and I difinitely could not see that end coming!

  28. 5 out of 5

    C.M. Crockford

    Read for Shelf Awareness, review coming soon.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aftin Combs

    That ending was so good!!! I was leaning more towards a three star rating but those last few chapters really elevated this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mindi

    Review to follow...

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