D.B. Lyn,
The Dead Won't Hurt You ... or Will They?
(Schiffer, 2002)

Is The Dead Won't Hurt You ... or Will They? a sixth-grader's poor attempt at writing a horror novel? No, a sixth-grader would've done better. Author D.B. Lyn's tome about this "true tale of a family's haunting" is a bit hard to swallow, and that is the least of this book's problems.

The details of this haunting are as unrealistic as the book's orb photographs, which look more like dust on a dirty camera lens than true paranormal phenomena. We get a vague idea that the house is evil. There are some footsteps, some scary laughter, doorknobs turning and an old trunk in the attic that likes to open and close on its own. An unseen phantom bangs on the back door at night. There is a vague hint that the house is killing people, because an elderly man, an alcoholic and a seemingly healthy (older) aunt went to sleep on the living room sofa and never woke up -- years apart. One major stumbling block for me was that the narrator didn't live in the house for three quarters of the book. We get some memories from her childhood, but for the most part, she lives next door.

The entire book is littered with constant, irrelevant chit-chat and gibberish that is inconsequential and brings nothing to the story. We hear more about the narrator's coffee addiction than we do about the haunting. This pointless chatter may be meant to draw the reader into the narrator's daily life and experiences, but instead has the opposite effect. It's boring. The first-person narrative, written from the point of view of a woman who grew up in the house until she was 16, babbles and prattles endlessly through conversations with friends, neighbors and family about everything we don't need to know. I'm sorry your son was late to work and your husband's favorite dog got sick. What's that have to do with the haunted house? The dog didn't live there, and neither did your son. Ever. The dialogue is stiff and unrealistic. If this were fiction, I would complain that the characters were wooden with no personality. If this were a movie, I'd complain that the actors couldn't act their way out of a soap bubble.

The entire second half of the book details the narrator's efforts to have the old place destroyed -- specifically, professionally burned. The fire chief comes up with every excuse in the book to avoid burning the house, although the fire department in the area has routinely done this for other residents. We never find out why. We have to hear in dreary detail about every pizza and fish dinner the narrator shares with her husband during the weeks leading up to the burning, as well as what he thought about them. Please, I beg of you! Just burn the gosh-darned place down already, and put me, the reader, out of my misery!

The author tries to make this "true tale" read like a novel, which can work well in the right hands. This effort brings in too much extraneous information in an attempt to accomplish that goal and is an utter failure. Was this story meant to be scary? If so, it badly missed its mark. This quick read was a total disappointment -- a silly waste of time would be a more apt description. Am I being a bit harsh? Maybe, but it's hard to believe this mess was considered ready for publication. Give me some depth of character, some realistic emotion and some heart-pounding action. Give me some gut-wrenching reactions to the evil entities! If you're looking for a detailed, plausible and fascinating account of a haunted house written by the inhabitants, look elsewhere. I would recommend Danny's Bed by Al Cobb.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

9 February 2013

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new