Ordinary Horror
David Searcy
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Ordinary Horror

David Searcy
240 pages
January 2002 (reissue)
rated 1 of 5 possible stars

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With a title like Ordinary Horror and the description on the back of the book, readers of David Searcy's reissued novel are led to believe that they are about to read a psychological thriller about killer plants. The book centers on widower Frank Delabano, an old man who lives a quiet life in a small tract house. Frankís one joy in life is his rose garden, which is why, when he finds strange hills among his flowers, he is so concerned. Convinced that he has gophers in his back yard that may kill his precious blooms, Frank orders mysterious plants out of the newspaper that promise to kill any backyard pests without ruining the flowers or anything else.

After weeks of waiting, Frankís strange plants arrive and he immediately plants them in the backyard. The gophers are almost instantaneously gone, but the plants seem to have another, more sinister effect on Frank, his neighbors and seemingly the whole neighborhood. I wonít explain what that sinister effect is, but not because I donít want to ruin the storyóitís because Iím not actually sure what it is.

As far as horror stories goes, this one fails miserably. The only thing scary about ordinary Horror is that there might actually be people out there who live lives as empty and depressing as Frank Delabano's. And, instead of trying to spice up his characterís life or skimming over the mundane details of it, Searcy seems to revel in the boring minutiae of it. The reader is subjected to Frankís boring rituals, his boring recollections of his late wife and his boring (and sometimes creepy) interactions with his neighbors. The promise of something interesting happening with the mysterious plants also never materializes, leaving the reader unfulfilled and disappointed. Every effect the plants have is vague, underexplained or flat-out confusing, making us unsure if anything is really going on or not. Instead of being intriguing, it comes off as simply annoying.

To add to the bookís problems, the pacing is incredibly slow, and itís often difficult to understand. One paragraph sometimes drags on for page after page without relief, making it hard to follow or stay interested in. References are vague or obscure and dialogue often makes no sense whatsoever. Whatever Searcy was trying to accomplish with this book (unless his intention was to mercilessly bore the reader), he failed completely.

© 2003 by Angela McQuay for Curled Up With a Good Book

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