Have you seen the show Ghosts? It’s a campy sitcom about a woman who sees ghosts in her house and has learned to live with them. This is kinda like that, but a lot more macabre, and a lot more funny!
If it isn’t bad enough to live in a haunted house, try living in this haunted house in September! The ghosts act up more than usual, the walls bleed profusely, and forget about sleeping, with all the moaning and screaming. But Margaret is resigned to this. She’s learned to adapt, ignore, and tolerate all the goings on. She’s tried the usual remedies: priests, microfiche research, ouija boards, digging up bones, and more. But eventually things go back to the way they were, and of course, there’s always September.
Take Elias, for example. The boy who doesn’t speak but howls, and bites if you get too close. Margaret has learned to just treat him like a plant, narrating her life around him, while expecting no response in return. And it works! Unless she gets too close of course, but shame on her for crossing his boundaries. Margaret understands that if she follows the rules, bites will be kept to a minimum.
In this way she has managed to figure out what triggers each ghost. If you don’t want the upstairs bedroom ghosts to crawl out of the fireplace, don’t start a fire! Easy! And sometimes avoidance is best, which is the case for Master Vale, who lives in the basement. The Bible pages attached to the back of the door seem to be doing the trick, as long as the door stays boarded up.
By playing by the rules, Margaret has learned to coexist in this crowded house. But her husband, Hal, isn’t quite as understanding and leaves. And this is news that she can only hide from her daughter, Katherine, for so long. Eventually, Katherine insists on a visit to figure out where Hal went. Unfortunately for Margaret, this is in the middle of September, when even the best behaved ghosts find themselves relieving their anxiety by rearranging the furniture a la poltergeist style:
Unfortunately, this also means the door to the basement has to get unboarded, in order to avoid more questions about what’s…down there.
What’s great about this book is how a lot of what goes on can have an alternate meaning to an outside observer: Frederika, the helpful housekeeper, likes to make tea for Margaret. But all Katherine knows is that the stove is on and left unattended constantly. Or Katherine will catch Margaret talking, seemingly to herself. And signs that Margaret sees as other worldy messages are seen as meaningless noise by Katherine, who grows increasingly worried for her mother as she observes more and more bizarre behavior.
Just like the plot of a typical sitcom – misunderstanding abounds and hilarity ensues, with a touch of horror mixed in. This is a great read that will keep you entertained the entire time.