I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Haunted is a novel made up of stories: twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you'll ever encounter.
They are told by the people who have all answered an ad headlined 'Artists Retreat: Abandon your life for three months'. They are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of 'real life' that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But 'here' turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theater where they are utterly isolated from the outside world - and where heat and power and, most importantly, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more desperate the stories they tell - and the more devious their machinations to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/non-fiction blockbuster that will certainly be made from their plight. (source)
This book was part of my tumblr book club's horror novel reading list, and it took me WAY too long to read. This is in no way whatsoever a reflection of the book; it's entirely due to my busy schedule resulting from grad school. I want to make that very, very clear, because it's entirely possible that some of my reactions to this book could be due to the ridiculously long time that it took me to read it, and most readers will NOT be having those experiences. Please keep this in mind while reading my review.
I knew going in that this book would be both very well-written and very disturbing. If you've ever read anything by Chuck Palahniuk, you'll know why I say that. In addition to this, I've also read Fight Club and Invisible Monsters Remix. None of the Palahniuk books that I've read so far, including this one, have been pleasant to read. His imagination goes places where most of the rest of ours probably don't, and as a result, reading his books can be very uncomfortable. Haunted absolutely lives up that. And because it's not only a Palahniuk novel, but a Palahniuk horror novel, it's absolutely gut-wrenching at times. There were multiple occasions when I almost put this book down because I was so disgusted with it. I did keep reading and finish the book, but this is not one that you should read if you're easily grossed out. In the book description that I've posted above, there's a statement that describes the book as containing "the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you'll ever encounter." Horrifying, mind-blowing, stomach-churning - yes, absolutely. But at no point in this book did I ever come close to laughing. That's something that you should be aware of as well.
The concept of this novel and the way that it's told is brilliant, there's no denying that. Like everything else that I've ever seen Palahniuk do, it's wonderfully carried out and completely original. I do believe that hardcore horror novel fans and hardcore Palahniuk fans will adore this book. I believe that if you're reading this under normal circumstances, you won't want to put it down (unless you're at one of the extremely disturbing parts, in which case you probably will need to take a breather).
The main difficulty that I had with this book, aside from being periodically freaked out beyond belief, was that I had a hard time keeping track of the characters and remembering what happened. Again, I believe that this is mainly due to my reading schedule and my life circumstances while reading this book. I simply wasn't able to keep each story straight, although there were DEFINITELY some that stood out more than others. There are a ton of characters, though, so if you have a hard time keeping track of multiple storylines, you should be aware of that quality of this book when you start it.
Ultimately, I've decided to give this book a thoroughly average rating. I did not enjoy it at all and I highly doubt that I will ever read it again. However, once again, Palahniuk writes incredibly well and this novel has horrified me, as horror novels are supposed to do. So if reading twisted stories is something that you like to do, I definitely recommend this book. But if you're like me and you're not someone who gets excited about horror novels, this might not be the best fit.