On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed his entire family in their home on Long Island: both parents and his four siblings (ranging in age from 9 to 18). One year later, George and Kathy Lutz bought the house, and, along with their three kids, moved into the house in December 1975. 28 days later, they moved out, leaving all their belongings after claiming to have been victims of a traumatic haunting.
Which is utter horseshit. Perhaps that goes without saying – but you never know. There are a series of falsifiable claims made in this book – and they have all been systematically debunked. To give just one example, “Father Mancuso”, the priest contacted by Lutzes to bless the house, didn’t exist. He’s a fictionalized version of Father Ralph Pecoraro – who pretty soundly denies the whole affair.
But I’m not going to sit here and pick apart the book for all its falsehoods. There are plenty of websites out there that do that job better than I could.
If you treat this as a novel – it’s actually not too bad. A little derivative of The Excorcist, perhaps, and familiar to anyone who’s ever read a book about a haunting….or seen a move or TV show within this genre, but it’s still an effective story for what it is. And by, “effective” I mean generally entertaining without being particularly meaningful or evocative. I can see how it may have been horrifying to the audiences of the late ’70s. It’s all fairly passe today, though.
The book basically comes down to, “it’s cold, George is an asshole to the kids, Kathy hate everyone, and something weird happens.”
One thing that always takes me out of stories like this is how pointless most of the haunting is. The demons (or poltergeists) have the power to move objects, or make a room smell like human excrement, or fill a room with flies – but it never really seems to actually hurt anyone. That’s fortunate, I guess, for characters that routinely deny what are clearly supernatural events.
Overall, unless you’re into this sort of things, this is probably the kind of book you should just pass on by.