Review: Better Boxed and Forgotten by Andrew Charles Lark (2015)

mysticsReview by Jaq D Hawkins

Daniel Lintz attends his grandmother’s funeral, feeling uncomfortable among her colleagues, who tend to be Nobel laureates in Physics. It comes out that the grandmother was well respected among her peers and a genius, if not a great grandmotherly type. Her father was also a respected physicist and has left records of unknown experiments in the basement of the old mansion that has now passed to Daniel.

The story is told in first person from Daniel’s point of view and we learn much about his grandmother in the first chapter, especially that she was an interesting and intelligent lady. Yet she kept secrets well. The mansion itself is very run down, much like the inner city areas of nearby Detroit. Daniel, after being given a tour of the house by his grandmother’s lawyer, including hints of the secret documents he has inherited, decides he wants to fix up the house, despite financial objections from his wife.

The writing is very descriptive, very literate, and definitely held my interest, despite a few editorial mistakes (just a few). My only real complaint is that it is divided into parts rather than chapters, which made it inconvenient for finding a stopping place. Ironically, I was so quickly caught up that I wanted to keep reading anyway, although life has a way of interfering with a good read.

The story covers a span of time which allows for developments in Daniel’s domestic life, but every so often there are hints about something strange about the house and in some parts, some very descriptive weird happenings of a ghostly nature that make it east to visualise the special effects in a movie version, should one ever be made.

Daniel is a likeable character, but there were times I wanted to slap sense into him. I had to smile at one cultural reference, a mention of imitating the accent of a character called Thurston Howell III from a sitcom that was well known in my childhood, but I wonder if the significance might be completely lost on younger people and those who don’t have access to American television.

The characters were well defined, although the plot was faster-slower-faster and seemed to raise more questions than it answered much of the time. Towards the end, a few chapters felt a little like they were just tying up loose ends, but after an ending worthy of The Twilight Zone (another old American television programme), we are left with an unresolved situation that indicates that a sequel is essential. Doesn’t anyone write complete stories anymore? I will probably read the sequel to this one because the story and writing were good and I sometimes found myself morbidly riveted to the periodic weird happenings in the book.

My one niggle besides the lack of chapters was a short segment from another character’s point of view (Charlie). The segment itself was a great idea and I suppose it stopped where it did because that was all the main characters would have been able to see, but since we got a chance to see the thoughts and memories that made the events significant, I felt it should have gone just a little further to let us in on the thought processes that made Charlie deal with the situation in the way that he did.

For Horror enthusiasts who understand the meaning of the phrase, “Do you want to see something really scary?”, all I can say is that I elected not to read this one alone at night after the first significant ghostly manifestation. This one is good, worth about 4.3 stars.