Book Review: ‘How to Sell a Haunted House’ by Grady Hendrix

Horror author Grady Hendrix has proven over the past few years that he is easily one of the top writers of the genre. While all of his books are great, the works set in Hendrix’s birthplace of Charleston, South Carolina hit with a little something extra. Which is why the fact his latest release How to Sell a Haunted House is set in the Holy City had me excited for what was in store. On top of that it was a haunted house story which is always my jam. It has been one of my most anticipated books of 2023 and now I finally got my hands on a copy of How to Sell a Haunted House.

Following the sudden deaths of her parents, Louise has to return to her childhood home cluttered with the decades of her mother’s puppets and dolls. These events force, her to have to collaborate with her estranged brother Mark and the tension between them has not subsided since they last saw each other. Naturally, strange things begin to happen as they try to get the house in order to put on the market forcing the siblings to confront a dark chapter from their past involving a murderous puppet tied to their family.

With How to Sell a Haunted House, Grady Hendrix takes one he does best and cranks it up to 11. There is a combination of pulse-pounding terror and quirky unexpected humor with truly fun and likable characters. As you can imagine with a haunted house tale, these storytelling qualities make for an excellent spooky blast. The supernatural menace Louise must deal with is at once ridiculous and chilling. One might find it hard to be scared of a sociopathic puppet, but Hendrix’s creation of Pupkin is what nightmares are made of. Naturally, along the way we discover things are not always what they may seem to keep you turning the pages like a mad person. Every single character you meet along the way in this story is so expertly developed and crafted you would honestly believe they are real people. Anyone who has read Hendrix’s previous books know this is a particular strength of his. It is not uncommon to latch onto his protagonists to the point that you want to make sure they get a deserved happy ending far after the events of the story. Louise is no different, as a single mother who has to return to her hometown and confront so much that she had tried to run away from. As someone who myself was born and raised in the American South every character in this book resonates with me as being just like someone I have known in my own life in some way shape or form.

The year may be young with plenty more promising scary reads on the horizon (Stephen Graham Jones’ upcoming Don’t Fear the Reaper and Paul G. Tremblay’s The Beast You Are promise to be bangers) but How to Sell a Haunted House promises to be among the best of the year. It is weird, scary, and funny with a beating heartfelt family drama at the center of it all.