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Book Review: The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom

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Are you a lover of ghost stories and haunted houses? If so, then The Birthing House just may be an excellent choice for you. A debut novel by Christopher Ranson, this book combines the paranormal with deep unmet desire.

Have you ever just happened to look through a newspaper, magazine or seen an ad of some variety, where something just jumped out and grabbed you? Almost as if you are being spoken to and unexplainably drawn to something or someone. This is the feeling that Conrad Harrison gets while looking through the Wisconsin State Journal, while far from home and trying to deal with emotional issues after the loss of his estranged father. The ad reads:

“140-yr-old Victorian in Black Earth. 4bdr., 2 bath on 1 acre. 3,500 sq. feet. Front parlor, library, orig. woodwork, maple floors, fireplace. Cornish stone foundation. Det. 2-car garage. Historic turn-of-the-century birthing house restored to mint. Perfect for family! $225,000. Seller motivated. Call Roddy at (608) 574-8911”

Conrad’s marriage has been on the rocks and his dissatisfaction with living in California is at an all-time high. This move, to this place, feels right and as though it will be a new beginning for both him and his wife. Little does Conrad know that the house is alive with a dark presence, searching for a life that is brought about by birth and death. There is only one mother, and that mother must get rid of all the “other mothers”.

With virgin pregnancies, extreme fertility, erotic dreams (or are they just dreams?) and unexplainable visions and sounds, including the wailing of a newborn infant, The Birthing House is sure to take hold of the reader from the beginning.

Ransom displays an excellent talent for both storytelling and writing. A fact that I found particularly interesting is that both he and his wife live in a 140-year-old birthing house in Wisconsin. Hmmm, perhaps there is more to The Birthing House than just imagination?

After hearing bits and pieces, here and there, about The Birthing House, I was greatly intrigued and had a deep desire to read this book. Settling in, I was quickly engrossed. However, I do have to be honest in saying that there was a point where I lost interest because of the excessive sexual content.

I am not a prude, by any means, but it just seemed as though there was an overt amount of sex scenes, that took away from the story. I can understand the sexual possession aspect of the storyline, however it just seemed a bit overdone to me. After getting through this lengthy portion, the latter half of The Birthing House, once again, took over my senses and wrapped itself around me. I was left feeling fairly satisfied, as the final page was turned and the cover closed.

As horror/paranormal/haunting stories go, The Birthing House was good. I never found myself to be scared per say, however it frankly takes quite a bit to scare me with a story. That’s not to say that I didn’t find the haunting/paranormal aspect to be engrossing, just not overly “scary”. Those easily “freaked out”, however, may have a totally different take on this. I did love the premise of the story and the writing was excellent. One particular passage that really stuck out for me was (from page 245):

“I got news for you, kid,” Leon Laski had said. “A haunting is just history roused from her sleep. Any house can be haunted, even a new one. Know why? Because what makes’em haunted ain’t just in the walls and the floors and the dark rooms at night. It’s in us. All the pity and rage and sadness and hot blood we carry around. The house might be where it lives, but the human heart is the key. We run the risk of letting the fair maiden out for one more dance every time we hang our hat.”

On sale August 4th, 2009, The Birthing House is sure to make it’s way to many a reader’s hands. I greatly look forward to Christopher Ransom’s next work, as I am sure many other’s will be.

*As an overall rating, I would give The Birthing House a 3/5.

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About April Pohren

  • JJ

    I just finished this book. Im not big into horror books, but something about the idea of a “birthing house” really drew me in. However, it was anticlimactic. I did enjoy it, but it was confusing, and many things were unclear. I hoped they would clear up at the end, but they did not. The story is a great idea, but I dont like the way it was written at all. I also had a difficult time liking the main character. Conrad seemed very weak and confused. He was actually a real jerk at times. Cursing at his pg wife,kicking her in the throat when she tried to leave, making promises to the preg neighbor, not calling the police when the preg neighbor was shot. I wanted to like him, but as I got deeper into the story, I was so dissapointed. I hope someone can take this great idea, and write a much better book about it.

  • Tonya

    I just finished The Birthing House and thought the end was really confusing. Nothing was really summed up and ends were not met. I didnt like Conrad. He was a bit of a jerk. He felt childish to me. I like the idea of the birthing house, but it was just confusing. It was a good read, but it was not the best book i’ve read.