Book review: “How to Sell a Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix

(small spoilers)


Grady Hendrix’s latest novel, “How to Sell a Haunted House,” is a haunting and emotionally charged story that explores the themes of death, grief, and inheritance. The novel is centred around Louise, a single mother who returns to her childhood home in San Francisco following the death of her parents and brother. As she inherits the property and begins the process of cataloging and disposing of her loved ones’ belongings, she discovers that the house is haunted by something that might be tied to their deaths and has roots deep in the family’s long-buried history.


I admit it, like the rest of the world at the moment I am fairly Grady Hendrix mad. And yes, I’ve read his other books. And yes, I watched the TV-remake of ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism‘ with that great plot and this curious little dude (“Andras”) who I personally found far less scary than the thought of him (bit of Cloverfield vibes there). My advice – stick to the book.

Image courtesy of Gabriel Beauvais at Artstation:

ANYWAY, onto this book, which I have to say is my favorite of the lot.

Initially, the focus is on heavy tones at the start of the book, and based on something that nearly every human can relate to – squabbling over an inheritance. Louise is the narrator (not the only one, as we get a glimpse into her brother Mark’s past experiences too) and her parents appear fairly wackadoo-crazy, with puppets (queue the Chucky vibes) playing a huge role in their lives and this novel. Her mum’s massive collection are the stars of the show, staring through to you as the reader with their unblinking china eyes, offering both a smart narrative link to the stories of the past and posing a threat in the future.

The moments of tension between siblings Louise and Mark early in the novel are just as taut and powerful as the terror that comes later, and the terror comes in waves of violence, supernatural phenomena, and heartbreaking truths about what’s really going on in the family home now that the parents are gone.

Despite the heavy themes, Hendrix injects humor to break up the solemnity, creating a well-balanced and emotionally charged story. One of the key scenes in the book is the parents funeral, where their fellow puppet friends turn up in all manner of costume and with their chosen puppet on their arm. Louise cannot help but think of her mother’s own favorite puppet, Pupkin, and how there is something not quite right about him….

Hendrix masterfully employs unreliable narrators and grief as driving forces, resulting in a deeply personal and introspective work. The haunting of the house builds slowly, but with increasing intensity, driven by the tragic reasons behind the ghostly presence and its lasting impact on the family.

Pupkin-style image courtesy of MidJourney AI. Prompt: scary puppet with big smile and dark eyes sitting inside a creepy house

Hendrix’s suspenseful prose is in fine form in ‘How to Sell a Haunted House’. Every time you think it can’t get more jaw-dropping, along comes the author with another reveal, another left turn that’s at once shocking and right at home within the narrative. Despite jet lag, I read this whole book in a few hours, and bought a much-desired burger which I left to get cold because I couldn’t juggle the sticky food and turning these pages fast enough.

The story is a pulse-pounding exercise in pure horror drive that never loses sight of its emotional core, making it quintessential Hendrix. It’s another batshit crazy story, with a lot of heart, which is quintessential Hendrix. His twist on the haunted house genre is awesome and ripe for the modern age. You will feel spooked – and moved.

And it might make you look twice at any childhood toys you have lying around.

Who exactly is Grady Hendrix?

Grady Hendrix is a horror novelist who has gained recognition for his unique writing style and his ability to blend humor and horror. He is the author of several books, including “Horrorstör” and “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” “How to Sell a Haunted House” is one of his most popular works and has received widespread acclaim for its original storyline and its blend of humor and terror. Hendrix’s writing style is distinctive and engaging, and he has a talent for creating quirky and vivid characters that will stay with readers long after they have finished the book. He has established himself as a leading voice in the horror genre, and his books are a must-read for fans of horror, humor, and unique storytelling.

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