It’s always going tricky when a house, be it haunted or not, is the main setting of the story. This is because it’s been done countless times, and the author needs to be very clever in how they approach the way the story is told. The main concern is that it can be easy to fill the story with age-old cliches.
Dale Robertson’s The House that Jack Built deals with the house premise as it tells the story of three kids who decide to find out if the myth of mysterious Jack’s house is true or not.
Robertson does a good job of keeping the cliches to a minimum, with the few in the story never really having much of an impact to take away from the overall experience. There are quite a few scares throughout, told in such a progressive manner that they feel relevant, and not there just for the sake of it. However, where the story does fall flat, are the characters.
From the opening scene, there’s a sense that the characters are going to feel thin, and as the story progresses, they never really amount to anything. They feel static, through their actions and their dialogue, and this is where the story is really let down.
The House that Jack Built manages to avoid most of the cliches associated with its genre, while also adding in a few scares. However, its thin characters stop it from being better than it could have been.
*** out of *****