Ants and Spiders and Snakes, oh my! Greg and Debra Hamilton had just bought an old farmhouse that needed a lot of work, and that’s an understatement. The home had a buckled porch; cracked and moldy walls; a grimy kitchen. And, that’s just the first floor. Under the sink, Debra found “a bucket-size potato chip tin, all rusted and sticky. Debra moved the tin and choked back a breath when carpenter ants bubbled out like lava.” While Greg is at work, Debra begins to hear creaks from upstairs. Is it normal house settling or is it something else? As she’s exploring the house surroundings, she happens upon some elements nearby, like a rusted child’s swing set, but when she goes to find it again, it’s not there. Her mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. She begins to wonder if it’s happening to her as well.
Kyle and Julie Zourenger come by to welcome them to the neighborhood. It doesn’t take long before Debra and Julie form a bond. Each struggles with their own afflictions and manage to rely on each other. Julie’s marriage, while appearing to be amenable, is in fact, loveless. She confesses she’s receiving letters from a ‘secret admirer’ who calls himself “Smitten”. The letters scare her as it seems he knows far more about her than he should. Debra resolves to help Julie figure out the real identity of “Smitten”.
Let’s put it in simple terms. Debra willingly went in and worked hard making this house their home. After just the ants, I would have been long gone. The author used a lot of fascinating imagery of the setting, the house, and the people. I was completely pulled in from page one. Ms. Benedict definitely serves up several ‘creepy’ scenes that physically made me shiver. Back stories are told for both Debra and Julie giving us a clearer understanding of their complexities. This has a mysterious element as well as some supernatural. Rating: 4 out of 5.