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A House is Only as Good as its Family, and Vice Versa

by silverquill12


The house stood on a cursed plot of land, and this meant it was cursed too. Now, the land didn’t look especially cursed; it still sprouted grass and flowers, and it didn’t house any portals to some Hell-forsaken area. The house also seemed innocent enough; despite the cracked windows, the shutters were clean and bright. It was made of sturdy brick tainted a warm color from the sun. No dark clouds surrounded the house, no demons came knocking in the middle of the night. By all glances, it was normal.

The house could never hold a family long, despite its suburban location, large yard, and friendly neighbors. Before long, the inhabitants would leave, sometimes without those they had entered with.

The house attracted a certain type of family. It couldn’t abide unconventional units; they had to be factory fresh. The father had to be a large man, usually employed at some big job in the city, either a bank, law firm, or hospital. The mother had to stay home, cooking, cleaning, and waiting on the family. She could even serve on the PTA, if the house was feeling adventurous. And the children would have to be popular, straight-As, athletic angels. The house liked its cookie-cutter, 1950s, TV sitcom, stereotypical perversion of a family; it found them much more susceptible to the curse.

When they moved in, everything would seem fine. The heirloom armoires, the precious china, the ugly rug from Grandma would be carted in and placed on the blank canvas. Coats of each size would be hung from the pegs by the filigreed front door, shoes lined up neatly beneath them. It was a dollhouse; so perfect that some higher hand had to have arranged it.

The family would settle into their new life. Cardboard boxes would slink out of sight. The kids would have their friends over. The mother would cook her signature meatloaf, and do Taco Tuesdays, and have takeout every Friday. The father would learn the sports channels of the area, and station himself on the couch every Sunday afternoon. Life was normal, or at least carried the pretense of it.

But the tension was tangible. The house loved to play games, you see. It would take something of the sister’s and she’d blame it on the brother, or the mother, or even the dog (if there was one). The mother’s lasagna would burn because the house turned up the oven, and her husband would look disdainfully down his nose, and then back to the paper, annoyed at his absent-minded wife. It would shatter a window and the mother would chastise the brother for being careless with his baseball. None of them were any the wiser to the house’s cruel tricks.

And over time, this tension would build. The family members would revert to the ugliest versions of themselves. The father became distant and sharp-tongued, drinking well before five in the evening and staying out late. The mother became a wisp of a thing, pale face caked with cracked makeup, always the victim of the father’s rage. The children would lose happiness, and they would cower from their mother’s harsh words but lose sleep over her sobbing at night.

The house learned to relish in the curse. It was not by choice; it was rather an acquired taste. It no longer could feel; it wasn’t sure if it could in the first place. It learned to tell itself lies instead.

Eventually, the familial bonds would snap. Either the father stayed out a little too late, and had a little too much to drink, or the mother cried a little too much, or one kid tried suicide a little more than once, or the other yelled a little too loud. Either way, these families would fall apart from the inside. After between a couple days or a month, either all or some of them would leave the now trashed household. Sometimes the father took the kids, sometimes the mother. But the unhappiness would follow.

The house convinced itself it was for the best. Of course, the house helped a little, but wouldn’t these families have fallen apart on their own? All the house was doing was simply retrieving their true natures. None of them were truly happy before, and it was helping them do something about it. Right?

The house stood on a cursed plot of land, but it convinced itself the curse was on the families. 


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Tue Mar 31, 2020 2:37 am
Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey there silverquill12! Tuck dropping by with a review brought to you by the Pig Dragons!

I really enjoyed the description in this piece. You did a great job of only including essential details so the reader can craft a mental picture without overwhelming them with information. You also did a good job of showing rather than telling throughout the novel.

One area that I think could have been improved is to strengthen the characterization of the house itself. I'm confused about it as a character, since using an inanimate object as a main character (in this case, the antagonist) always carries the risk that it's a lot harder to create character qualities. In this case, it was hard for me to figure out the motivations of the house. Does it want to create chaos for the sake of chaos? Does it have a choice in following along with the earth? Questions like that make it a less compelling antagonist, which makes the plot less compelling in turn.

Speaking of such, I was unsure the reasoning behind the earth being cursed. It felt unnecessarily indirect and confusing. Why not make the house itself actually cursed? It doesn't seem to add any benefit to the story and adds some confusion and convolution to the story.

Overall, though, it was a very well-written story. The ending was especially hard-hitting, and the combination of the strong writing, excellent description, and supernatural themes made this a story I will be sure to remember. Hopefully these notes were helpful to you, and if you have any questions about them I'd be happy to answer them! I hope to read some more from you in the future.

Best,
Tuckster




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Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:59 am
Elinor wrote a review...



Hey silverquill12!

Welcome to YWS. I hope you're enjoying the site so far. And happy review day! My name is Elinor and I thought I would drop by to give you a review.

I enjoyed reading this story and how you structured the story of the house around the different families that move in and out of it over the years. It reminded me of the first season of American Horror Story with a little bit of the Shining. I'd be curious to learn more about your inspiration in writing this was.

Overall, while I liked this idea of the house as a character, I definitely thought that there was more you could do with the idea. I want to know more about the families that come in and out, even if it's just a sentence or two about them. Give us a sense of how much they don't matter in the long run.

I did enjoy this read! Hope this helps! Don't hesitate to shoot me a PM if you have any questions.

Keep writing! :D

Elinor




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Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:35 am
Lia5Giba wrote a review...



Hello! I like this story a lot. The first few paragraphs were especially descriptive. The tone of this piece was also quite good. I almost felt like I was reading almost a poem, or the script for a silent film, an orchestra swelling in my ears. I could feel it start soft, as the bad intentions of the house started to barely be described. As the bad deeds of the house started to take place, it was like the music in my mind started to get faster, louder. And then as the family finally fell apart, the music swelled, a triumphant crescendo of misery and destruction. I can feel the destruction as much as the music, the feelings, as if this is a silent film that has been played many, many times.

In short... I enjoyed this story a lot. It's definitely interesting and captivated me. Overall, I think it's good. I do have a few suggestions, though.

Sometimes the father took the kids, sometimes the mother. But the unhappiness would follow.

I might change that second sentence to, "But either way, unhappiness would follow." Something like that.
It was a dollhouse; so perfect that some higher hand had to have arranged it.

I personally (and I'm not the best with punctuation, so keep that in mind) think that semicolon might be better as a colon or just a comma. If you split that sentence into two at that semicolon, I don't think that second part could stand independently.
Now, the land didn’t look especially cursed; it still sprouted grass and flowers, and it didn’t house any portals to some Hell-forsaken area.

Not a semicolon problem here! Just, I don't think "Hell-forsaken" should be capitalized. Yes, Hell is a noun, and sometimes is therefore capitalized. But hell-forsaken is an adjective, and therefore I don't think you should capitalize it.

I think that the transition from angel family to broken is well done. It might be a little fast from the paragraph that starts with "But the tension was tangible" to the paragraph that starts with "And over time, this tension would build." Going from simple arguments to drinking at five and getting depressed seems a teensy bit rushed in my opinion. But I don't think it's completely crippling to your story. I still feel the music in the background, the emotions as the mirror that reflects the family slowly splinter and shatter. It's just that small part might be slightly rushed.

Overall, this is a really interesting story that kind of splinters my heart a bit, too. I liked it a lot. And I bet others will, too.





"When a body moves, it's the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and I'll tell you who you are."
— Mikhail Baryshnikov