Whispering Corridors is a short novel by Ambrose Ibsen that tells the tale of a derelict house haunted by a ghost called the Upside-Down Man, and what happens when two college students try to film a documentary about both house and ghost.
Unfortunately, the premise was better than the execution.
Told in first person, the main character is Eric, a frat boy who has a healthy skepticism of all things supernatural. He’s dragged into this documentary project by his friend Lydia. I use the term “friend” loosely, because at no point in the novel does either character say anything remotely nice to the other. Every exchange is weighted with insult, hostility, or general smartassery, which makes their relationship puzzling. Lydia comes off as mean and unpleasant, with Eric as her punching bag. Literally, at one point:
“I guess so,” I replied, though apparently it wasn’t convincing, because she socked me in the gut. Lydia was pretty tiny, but she could throw a punch with the best of them.
Why does he hang out with her? She hits him and says nasty things to him all the time. Not only are they not having sex, but the subject isn’t even hinted at. So there’s not even any sexual tension to keep their connection interesting.
Eric is himself a strange character, and belongs to the only fraternity in the country that isn’t throwing a Halloween party on Halloween night. He also doesn’t like clubbing. Or hanging out with the other members of the frat. Or meeting co-eds. Or doing any of the things one might expect from a person who goes through the rigmarole of joining a college fraternity. His above-it-all attitude to college life didn’t sit right.
The writing needed work and included a lot of unnecessary verbiage:
Kenwood House looked to me every bit as dismal and uninviting as it had the day before, in the rain. (The whole book is told from your perspective, Eric, so everything looks to you like something. –ed)
It was a wallpapered kitchen; I could tell because the paper was peeling in several places.
…but from up close it was clear to see that she was in some trouble.
You get the picture. It’s not a big deal, but between that, the dialogue tags (“I urged,” “I warned,” etc), and some strange phrasing like, “There appeared to be four rooms on this level, none of them possessed of doors,” the writing took me out of the story.
We don’t learn a lot about the Upside-Down Man, nor do we see much of him at all, so the doom that creeps toward Eric and Lydia is rather toothless. Also, I found it hard to care about what happened to either character. Lydia’s big reveal did nothing to advance the plot or affect events in any meaningful way.
The book just didn’t do it for me. At the time of this writing, Whispering Corridors is available on Amazon Unlimited. Give it a try and tell me what I missed.