First published in US in 2006, this edition published in UK by Piatkus in 2009.
Back cover blurb:
A truly gripping debut that you will not be able to put down - no matter how terrified you become.
Baird College's Mendenhall echoes with the footsteps of students heading home for Thanksgiving break and Robin Stone, who won't be going home, swears she can feel the creepy, hundred-year-old residence hall breathe a sigh of relief. As a massive storm approaches, four other lonely students reveal themselves to Robin: Patrick, a handsome jock; Lisa, a manipulative tease; Cain, a brooding musician; and Martin, a scholarly eccentric. Each has forsaken a long weekend at home for their own secret reasons.
Soon, the five unlikely companions become aware of another presence disturbing the building's ominous silence. Are they the victims of an elaborate prank, or is the energy evidence of something genuine - something intent on using them for its own terrifying ends?
Together they'll face three long days and dark nights before the world returns to find out what's become of five students that nobody wants and no one will miss...
Picked this up in local charity bookshop for £2.49. I am about one third of the way through and not that much has really happened, apart from the five students getting drunk and stoned and messing about with a ouija board - but the writing is fast-paced and effective, and it is definitely holding my attention. The only clue to where things may be heading is that at one point the planchette spells out the word "QLIPPOTH", which refers to demonic forces in the Jewish kabbalah - and Martin (the "scholarly eccentric") is Jewish (and studying psychology rather then following his Orthodox father's wish that he becomes a rabbi), while Lisa ("manipulative tease") is wearing a red thread around her wrist (a pop-kaballah practice popularized by Madonna and other celebs in the early 2000s).
Will try to keep you updated, but so far I am enjoying it.
Thanks for writing about this one, Dr Strange. I struggle to muster up any interest at all in post 1980 horror writing. This one does sound somewhat interesting.
It's funny though about the name Robin Stone... presumably the author was unaware that that was the moniker Jackie Susann gave to the predatory male protagonist of her late Sixties novel The Love Machine (I've always thought the film version, which sank without a trace at the box office, might be fun for campy late Saturday night viewing).
I really only picked it up because I couldn't find anything else. I thought I vaguely recognized the author's name from somewhere, but after googling her I'm not so sure now - unless I had just seen this book before and decided against it. I'm not really expecting anything very original from it - the five students are obvious American youth stereotypes (reminding me a little bit of the film The Breakfast Club) and the overall set-up and atmosphere is straight from any number of haunted house stories (I suspect the author is a fan of The Haunting of Hill House), but it is well-written - and very much dialogue-driven so far, almost like it was intended as a screenplay.
Read a big chunk of this today, but I am going to try to keep it vague to avoid too many spoilers -
The first ouija session leads to another the following day, but this time the experience is disturbing and unpleasant - so the five students decide to leave well alone. But they continue to experience odd things happening around them, and these become increasingly worrying as other students start to return from Thanksgiving - and when someone from outside (but with connections to) the group dies in violent circumstances, two of the group become the focus of a police investigation. Various possibilities are raised and explored by the group - including that they have called up the spirit of a student called Zachary Prince who died in a fire in Mendenhall in the 1920s while using the same ouija board, or that they have invited a demon into the world. The results of some online searches and a conversation with a rabbi points strongly towards the latter. As things start to spin out of control, they meet up again to try to send the demon back with the help of a banishing ritual taken from an online copy of The Key of Solomon.
Pretty standard fare: A confrontation with Evil, not everyone survives the ordeal, but the banishing ritual seems to have worked - and then we get an epilogue that sets the scene for a sequel.
So - nothing very original really, but a quick and easy read. The qlippoth aspect kept it interesting enough for me to keep going with it - but then I am a bit of a sucker for that ole black magic and demonology schtick.