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Matthew Sturges – The House of Mystery, Vol. 4: The Beauty of Decay

December 20, 2010

152. House of Mystery, Vol. 4: The Beauty of Decay by Matthew Sturges, Luca Rossi, Werther Dell’Edera, José Marzán Jr., Bill Willingham, Richard Corben, Michael William Kaluta, et al. (2010)
House of Mystery, Volume 4

Read my review of volume:
1. Room & Boredom
2. Love Stories for Dead People
3. The Space Between

Length: 160 pages
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Started / Finished: 10 December 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’ve been enjoying the rest of the series.

Nasty skeleton
ghosts would make me eager to
strike a bargain, too.

Summary: In order to save everyone’s life, the House of Mystery has been shifted to the decaying City in the Space Between… but now Bethany is unable to shift the house back, so it seems as though they’ll be stuck there forever. And, compounding the fact that there is no food and they’re all slowly starving to death, the house and its occupants are being invaded by sinister ghost-creatures, and the house’s former owner has decided it’s high time to take back what’s his.

There’s also a collection of Halloween tales from various authors and artists that center around a very creepy mask.

Review: I think this may be the point at which this series loses me. For starters, the action in this volume starts right in the middle of things, without any reminder of where we are or how we got here. With my leaky memory, this was a little off-putting. Secondly, Bethany’s running voice-over narration about fear, or stories, or dreams, or (in this case) death, has stopped seeming poignant and deep and started feeling over-used and pretentious. Thirdly, while I’m glad that we’re finally getting some answers about what’s really going on, not enough is being answered relative to the new questions that are being raised to make it feel fully satisfying. And finally, and most critically, the one major plot point in this volume? The main climax of the story? Is not explained AT ALL. The last few pages have relatively little dialogue, and on those pages basically the entire game changes, with not the slightest bone thrown to the reader about what the hell just happened. It felt like a cheap trick to keep the reader reading, and while it’s probably going to work, I’m going to feel a little dirty about reading the next one.

Once again, though, I did really like the intervening stories – we learn more about Poet’s background in one of them; the others were stand-alones, but no less fascinating or creepy for that. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Eh. This series started out so well, and with so much promise, but I feel like it’s lost the thread by this point. Hopefully it’ll pick back up in the next volume… I’m willing to be an optimist as long as I can get them from the library rather than buying them myself.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Listen. You are going to die.

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