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The Birthing House - Christopher Ransom

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Genre: Horror / Author: Christopher Ransom / Paperback / 416 Pages / Book is published 2009-01-01 by Sphere

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    9 Reviews
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      20.11.2011 22:03
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      Not a good reading

      I usually review items I like, to share enjoyable experiences with others but this time I had to make an exception and review this book, which in my opinion is not worth buying.

      The cover is appealing and the synopsis makes you think you have a good read in your hands. So there you are, ready to be scared, anxious to discover Conrad's story and the secrets of his new house.

      You probably brew a nice cuppa and start reading. The first part of the book is not bad and you are intrigued by what will be uncovered in old photo albums and between the walls of this old mansion. However, you soon find that Conrad -the main character- is an unlikeable chap and you stop caring about what happens to him.

      He and his wife have a bad, implausible relationship and Conrad's rapport with his pregnant neighbour Nadia is just weird.

      Further down the line the plot become nonsensical and the concept of linking "horror" to giving birth, babies and milk is actually repulsive. You wonder what has the author experienced to come up with this idea.

      I appreciate that, unlike me, you might find this notion interesting, so you might ask if the book is at least scary. Well, sorry to disappoint you again but it actually isn't.

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        07.07.2010 22:50
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        The cover is possibly the best part of the book

        The Birthing House - Christopher Ransom


        I have read a few horror style books before though they are not my usual style. I was first attracted to this book by the front cover and although the phrase 'never judge a book by its cover' set to mind, I felt intrigued enough to borrow it from the local library - after all, if I didn't like it I wouldn't be wasting any money. Got to love libraries!


        *********************
        CHRISTOPHER RANSOM
        *********************

        I wanted to mention a little about this author which I felt very interesting concerning this book which was actually his first novel. It is true to say that many writers use their own experiences loosely in their writings and this I found rang true to a big part in this book.

        Christopher Ransom was born in Colarado though moved to New York and then LA with his wife whilst they pursued their various careers which included selling ads for media magazines and screenwriting. It was after this that they bought a 140 year old birthing house in Wisconsin where he wrote his first novel inspired I would imagine by his whereabouts.
        When you read through this book you will find many similarities to Ransom's life though here is hoping that not everything which happens in the book comes from a real life experience!


        *********************
        THE BIRTHING HOUSE
        *********************

        When Conrad Harrison inherits a large sum of money he is felt strangely drawn to a large and very old house in Wisconsin. His wife, Jo, doesn't share his enthusiasm though Conrad goes ahead with the purchase and hopes that the old house may be the new beginning that they both need yet Conrads new purchase is not all it seems and soon he is left all alone in the house as his wife goes away to pursue her career.

        Conrad soon begins to hear the ghostly wailing of a newborn baby in the night as well as strange bloody stains on the floorboards and a dark-eyed woman who resembles his wife. He starts to wonder what the pregnant girl next door knows about the goings on within his house and becomes obsessed with not only her but her unborn baby too.

        All too soon the mystery of the Birthing house begins to unravel pulling Conrad into its deepest most darkest secrets leading to a nightmarish conclusion...


        In the main part of the book, the story is written from the view of Conrad both in his actions and within his thoughts. Conrad is not a character I immediately took to nor is he a character that I really connected to in any way throughout the story. His character is well documented and his history is pulled from the pages in various parts of the book creating a near well-rounded character though there was just something about him in which I felt was wrong somehow.

        The first aspect which hit me was how graphic this story was. First came the overabundance of serious swearing and crude language which shocked me as I wasn't expecting it though more than that it felt as though it really wasn't needed. Swearing is consistent in every day life though I am not one to use fowl language much. Perhaps this is why I felt it too much though personally I believe it was more to do with the way it was used and the fact that every other word seemed to be something crude or rude in some way or form. It was too much and was really off-putting. It would have read so much better without so much of this kind of language. Secondly came the extremely graphic sexual scenes described so much you would think you were reading an adult sexual romance novel. I have read many books in which have a scene or few of this nature though never have I come across one in a horror book which goes into every detail and does so over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I don't shy away from scenes like this as it is part of nature though when written in such a crude way I just feel as though it ruins the whole nature of the story.

        Moving on to the story itself I found it to be very full of detail and in the main well rounded and structured. As long as you ignore the language and graphical unnecessary scenes (which is difficult as it is consistent) then the story pulls you right in. I felt at many times that I wanted to put the book down and leave it due to the language though as the storyline captured my mind very quickly I managed to get through the whole book.
        As already mentioned, the main character had plenty of background information though something about the way the character was written just did not appeal to me and I felt his characterisation just didn't have enough steam to carry the story. In the whole it followed only this character both in his actions and thoughts and so more could have certainly been made of him. There were other smaller characters which fit reasonably well into the story line and in some ways were much easier to follow and understand than the main character, especially one of them in the form of the next door neighbour in which I found very realistic and became quite sympathetic of her situation. This character did help support the story better than the main character though even with this positive to the book, it wasn't enough to save it in my opinion.

        On the cover it states that the book is the next big scary horror story which really scares the reader. I do not usually get scared when reading books though there were some points in this book that against all odds did manage to scare me (I was reading alone in the dark at the time though!). I think it was more of a psychological fear though more than the actual writing.

        One thing that was very apparent to me was the feeling that I was reading a typical horror film. Although there were some surprises, the layout was very much the same as many horror films of this nature with the ending failing miserably. I could pretty much see what was going to happen pages before it did and even then I still felt overly let down as there was to twist or turns and although the story was wrapped up completely I felt it unfinished in many ways as that climax I had been hoping for just was not there. It was as though the author felt she had written enough and so wrapped it up quickly.

        So am I glad that I read this book?

        It certainly was not the worst story I have ever read and it did keep my mind captured in the main, at least enough to read to the end, though I certainly would not read it again. There were many flaws and scenes in which were too off-putting and had no real need to be written that way at all and that coupled with the ending simply boosted my disappointment in the book.

        Never judge a book by its cover!


        ************************
        FINAL WORDS
        ************************

        There were a number of great points within the story though unfortunately not enough to make me feel it is worth recommending. Perhaps many people will feel completely different to me though in my opinion it not only lacked a well rounded ending and flawless story, it also contained way too much graphical information that had no real place.

        Not recommended.

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          06.06.2010 11:43
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          An OK read but not one I will return to.

          This a review of the 2008 book titled "The Birthing House" by Christopher Ransom. It's a horror genre which I wouldn't usually go for but the silver foiled front cover drew me in when I saw it in the shop.

          **Big promises**
          Billed as 'The scariest novel since Stephen King's The Shining, The Birthing House grips from the first line to the terrifying final twist. So I prepared myself for a gory read.

          **Not my usual read**
          As I mentioned previously, horror books aren't usually my thing but I do think it's good to read something outside of your usual field as you can sometimes be pleasantly surprised....

          **A brief outline of the plot***
          The story is about Conrad, fed up of New York buys an old house on impulse in a remote village 'Black Earth' in Wisconsin. His wife Jo barely spends any time in the house before heading off for a residential six week training course and leaving Conrad in the house alone.

          The previous owners give him a spooky album related to the house history with the previous occupants of the house pictured within. One of them has a scary resemblance to Jo and Conrad burns the album as he can't stop looking at it.

          Combine Conrad's love of rare snakes and his obsession with the next door neighbours young and pregnant daughter Nadia and the ghosts start their haunting, taking their anger out on Conrad's two dogs and basically anything he shows any love for.

          Reference is made to 'the Doctor' who lived there many years ago and was responsible for 'taking care of' the women and babies who went there for refuge and help many years ago.

          **My opinion**
          I quite enjoyed reading this book, it was the first novel the author has written and there's a website www.thebirthinghouse.co.uk that has a bit more information on it including information about the author who lives in an old birthing house and has a love of snakes! So you can see where he gets his inspiration from.

          But was I scared? No not really, some of it didn't make sense and you were kept guessing in parts as to what actually happened and if the ghosts are real people or not.

          **The bits that didn't make sense to me***
          The previous owners are strange people. They didn't really want to move out of the house but did so to buy a farm. No one is sure how many children they actually have and find the circumstances strange around them. Like why are they all maimed or deformed in some way?

          **Recommended?**
          This was an OK read but I didn't feel particularly bothered about the outcome or what happened in it. I did visit the book's website out of curiosity but didn't really get the answers I was looking for. Perhaps horror just isn't my genre in books! I don't think I would recommend this book to my friends to read and I won't be looking out for further books by this author.

          ***Final word**
          I didn't really find Conrad and Jo a particularly good couple to read about. They didn't really have a lot in common and certainly argued most of the time. I would have liked to have seen more of a spark there between them to make it more real and actually hope that they work it out in the end. Instead I just thought Conrad should leave her and move on.

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            12.03.2010 20:32
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            Not a particularly well written book and I wouldn't recommend it

            This book really appealed to me on the shelf, it looked and sounded like it was going to be a genuinely scary horror story and I was quite excited to start reading it. It taught me a lesson that I should have already remembered: never judge a book by its cover.

            The story itself is about a guy, Conrad, who randomly buys a big old house for his (already failing) family with some inheritance money, without telling his wife - who is understandably not too keen. Conrad moves into the house and lives alone while his wife is still in the city working, and encounters various other characters one of which passes him an album with photographs of the house in its history. One of the people in the disturbing looking photographs is none other than his wife - or is it?

            The plot, summarised on the back of the book, sounds fresh and interesting and I was expecting to be swept into a creepy and fast paced tale of an evil house, dangerous hauntings, and a dark secret. I was instead finding myself ploughing manfully through a rather drab and slow moving story involving rather wooden and two dimensional characters for which, I found, I did not really care at all.

            I also found the ending to be a little strange. I managed to finish reading the book but the best way to describe my reaction to that would be a *shrug* and "meh".

            Ransom has to do better to sustain his career in this genre, as this one was disappointing and dull.

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            24.02.2010 21:11

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            Easy to read, but not really worth it

            Conrad Harrison, the main character, buys a big old house in Wisconsin, purely on impulse. However, his wife Jo can't (or won't) leave LA immediately, due to work commitments, so Conrad moves in to the house on his own. As this is a ghost story, it doesn't take long for the spooky stuff to start happening. Conrad starts hearing the ghostly wailing of a baby in the night, seeing blood on the floor and being haunted by a woman who looks exactly like Jo. Conrad starts to unravel the mystery of the house, and things quickly get out of hand.

            To be honest, I was expecting quiet a lot from this book, and I was disappointed. Sure, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a few times, but they felt like cheap thrills. I felt the book lacked any real depth, and the characters were not developed enough for me to really care about them. In places it moved slowly, and it takes a while for the suspense to build. The climax of the story was a bit weird, and I was left feeling more than a little confused and let down.

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            26.09.2009 11:27
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            I really enjoyed being spooked

            Warning: This book is seriously scary, dont read in the dark!

            I normally hate scary books but this one was different and had me hooked from the moment I read the blurb on the back.

            The story follows a man who moves from LA to get a quiet life in Big Earth in Wisconsin. He takes his wife with him, but they are going through a rough patch and she moves away when she is offered a job.

            Therefore its just Conrad left in the house on his own. Spooky things start happening like dolls coming to life, a spooky woman at the end of his bed. It really brings the chills to you straight away from about a chapter in. Some nasty things have happened in the house and there is a sense that the house wants more children as everything female that goes in there gets pregnant.

            Throughout the book Conrad goes through some awful scenes at night, and in the day more truths about the house come out. Its quite complicated and I didnt really get it until the last bit where he explains it all.

            If you like thrillers then this is a great book, its not for children there are some nasty bits in it, and you really should read it in the day with other people around as I got so into it when I brought my head up when I heard noises I thought I was still in the story.

            Its a gripping read and I had to finish it as quickly as possible so I didnt keep thinking about the scary parts at night! I borrowed it from the library so not sure how much it costs to buy.

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            02.07.2009 09:31
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            It was an ok read. For a first novel, it was very good, but a bit long and it didnt all seem to tie

            The back of the book says,

            "When Conrad and Jo move to the historic Victorian house, it seems like a new start for them. With its fairytale porch, wooden floorboards and perfect garden, it feels as though they have finally come home. But when Conrad is given an old photo album, he begins to discover what dark secrets the house is harboring. Looking through the 100 year old pages, he finds a group of Victorian women standing outside his house. The women look scary, angry all dressed in black with their arms folded. And then his heart nearly stops when he sees that one of the women - raven haired and staring at him with hatred in her eyes - is his wife."

            Well, that about says it all, when they have to write the standing positions and about the fairytale porch real estate details on the back of the book.

            For a first novel, I suppose it isn't bad. It is suspenseful, as you wait for something to happen. It is very like "The Shining", but with the added suspense of not knowing for sure who has gone insane and whether the ghosts are actually malevolent. There is a good twist ending, but throughout the book you wish you knew what was going on (as Conrad does, too!). There aren't many clues (he burns that photo album after looking at the first couple pages).

            The main thing I didn;t like was that even after reading it. I *still* didn't get what had caused the haunting (the history of the house) , even though he spent pages explaining it at the end, and the actual ending was a real cliffhanger (for the second novel?)

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            29.06.2009 18:31
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            Worth a try if you like cliche horor novels, if not then don't read it.

            I read this book about 2 weeks ago and I was disappointed, it is very slow to start, and you're not really sure where it is going.

            The plot is a typical haunted house, a couple Conrad and Jo, move into a new place and start experiencing strange visions, noises and phenomenon like unexplained pregnancies. Jo goes away to work, leaving Conrad alone to set up home, left to his own devices he convinces himself that the house is haunted and becomes obsessed by the pregnant girl Nadia who lives next door. Driven by his obsession, Conrad tries to uncover the mystery of his new house.

            The writing screams of inexperience and lack of editing, with lurid sex scenes which wouldn't appeal to most people. The dialogue and descriptive writing seem to be used as simply fillers to keep make the story long enough, and although the idea is fair, it is evidently ruined by the ending, which is naïve and cliché.

            The character's lack depth, so we struggle to feel sympathy for their plight, and the unpredictable, almost randomness of the plot is not endearing.

            I've read worse books, at least I found this good enough to finish, and it must be taken into account that this is Christopher Ransom's first novel, and as such he is inexperienced in the world of writing.

            I would like to say I'd recommend this book, but I can't, it's a novel that's easily forgotten, one that's not worth buying - sadly.

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              20.06.2009 21:24
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              Great read from this first time author!

              I have just finished reading this book, and what a great read!
              The plot is as follows: It starts out with a couple who buy a house away from the city (Conrad and Jo). The house is a Victorian Birthing House.
              Conrad buys the house before letting Jo know, as he has just come into a large sum of compensation money from his father passing away due to an accident.
              They both move to the house, but Jo goes back to the city to undertake training involving her work. Jo ends up being away from the house for about 8 weeks and Conrad is left alone, with the company of his dogs and the neighbours.
              The previous owner of the house turns up one day and passes Conrad a box full of possessions that he says must stay with the house. As Conrad goes through the box, he finds photograph albums and they show the house in the Victorian era with half a dozen 'stern' women stood on the porch. He sees his wife in the picture and burns the album. That's when the fun in the house starts!
              The book is a very good read and only took me a couple of days to read it. The problem was, i was getting to the end, expecting a big showdown, and i was kinda let down by the final twist. I won't share any more with you, as it will give the plot away, but the end wasn't what i really expected.
              It is Christopher Ransom's first novel, and it was written very well, and was easily a page turner, so i don't want to put you off from reading it!
              It's a good read and i am sure that there will be plenty of you out there who will enjoy it.

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