The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig is a supernatural horror novel with a story that follows a husband and wife who move into the hubby’s abusive dad’s house after the old man dies, where they are both drawn into the wicked events of their spooky arse pasts and faced to confront some gnarly fucking frights.
Prior to this, I had never before read a Chuck Wendig novel. Yet the cover and the slightly convoluted but spoopy premise had me hooked and I found myself unable to resist it. When I started it, I had amazing hopes for it. It was unusual and a bit slow-paced, but it had some interesting environment and atmospheres that had made me excited for dark and fucked-up shenanigans to come. However, with the book’s terribly unnecessary bulk of exposition, whatever interest I had completely dissipated about halfway through.
Things that showed promise when I began The Book of Accidents include: a methodical building of tension that felt fitting for a small, bleakly mysterious town and its whispering secrets; the three characters’ POVs from which the story unfolds providing some unique differences in perspective as to what’s happening to the main, centric family; and a dark and snowy night. Since I had been thoroughly enjoying slow-burn books as of late, the leisure pacing didn’t bother me at this point. The foundation that was being laid had my peak interest and I couldn’t wait to see where it would all eventually take me.
Learning about each of the family members was neat because their own unique sections helped to give them much needed dimension, to help connect the reader to them and build a sort of unsuspecting rapport. That way when intense shite begins taking place, we have feelings and reactions to it. Plus, it also really helped to put the various relationships and bonds into focus, which I always appreciate quite a bit. So that in conjunction with the micro-stacking tension created an eagerness within me. Yet, the more that I kept reading and the further that I inched along, I started to get a bit impatient for something big to happen, or at the very least something interesting.
It never fucking happened.
After reaching three hundred or so pages and noticing that I still had another two to three hundred left, I was ready to bang my head against a wall by that point. More so when I recognised that only three major things had happened thus far. My mental energy and excitement drained out of me and I became exhausted. I can’t even tell you if the ending was decent or not because I was just so damn happy it was over. That is not a reaction or feeling I like having when I finish a book.
The Book of Accidents really needed serious editing and chopping. The concept was fucking great but the execution was, well, killer. It runs so damn long, making it unnecessarily dense and long-winded, which then murdered all level of suspense, intrigue, and creepiness that caused me to get so fucking invested in the first place. I needed the story to make its point and give me space to use my brain and curiosity, not for it to bludgeon me in the brain over and over again with same point or thematic element, especially when it’s already become an obvious component of the plot.
Unfortunately, I DO NOT RECOMMEND The Book of Accidents, at least not for people who like their stories to have a decent flow that won’t waste one’s time. If you’re someone that has no qualms about a slower-than-needed ghost story, then you may enjoy this far more than I did. As to whether I’ll pick up another Wendig book in the future, I’m sure I’ll give at least another one or two a try before I write the dude off as just not being my cup o’ chai.
Publication Date: July 2021
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Page Count: 544
CW: Graphic deaths, gore, and blood. Strong language. Domestic and child abuse. Child torture and death. Gross descriptions of insects and decomposition. Body horror. Some crude adult humour. Some sexual content. Some drug use and alcohol consumption. Caution advisory for claustrophobia.
Availability: In-print; eBook, audiobook, hardcover, paperback editions available.