Marian Rolfe desperately wants to spend the sunny season away from the city, and the summer rental she finds advertised is everything she’s looking for. Her husband, Ben, is initially against it, but she eventually talks him into it. After giving the place a look and meeting its very odd owners, Marian and Ben eventually agree to take it … and right away, it becomes obvious that things aren’t what they seem. When the house begins to regenerate itself – and the Rolfe family’s expense – the summer getaway quickly turns into a nightmare.
I heard that this book was the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, and having just read the final page, I can totally see it. Spooky, atmospheric, and at times, downright terrifying, Burnt Offerings had a little of everything I liked: interesting characters, ghostly visitations, and, of course, an old mysterious house – one that, in this case, seems to have the ability to influence its inhabitants.
Given the many books and movies this novel has inspired, it stands to reason that this story wasn’t as fresh now as it must have been when it came out in the 1970s. But when you take its age and the reach of its influence into account, Burnt Offerings stands up as one of the creepiest and most interesting haunted house tales out there. With all the gothic subtlety of its genre, this novel will crawl under your skin and nest there. Of nightmares, there will be plenty.