Off the Shelf: "Home Sweet Home"

by Marcus Pan

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Home Sweet HomeI stepped out of the sci-fi genre for a little bit and starting going through the old books I read many years ago (I'm over 30 now…I can say that without laughing anymore) that my father brought over. He's been delving through his attic lately, and now that I have my own house he's been hellbent on emptying all the accumulated shit from his and pouring it into mine. Piles of paperbacks; horror, sci-fi, fantasy. This was just the tip of the iceberg. But enough of that.

Home Sweet Home by Ruby Jean Jensen is a pulp-horror from the mid-80's. After reading some heavy science fiction and then reading TSR's Tome of Magic (translation: being a geek - and no, I'm not writing an Off The Shelf review of a game manual, sorry) I picked out from my old-books-I've-read-years-ago shelf the most cheeze ridden cover I could find. It was chill out time, you see. Home Sweet Home, with its skeletal Little Mother with eyes that were metallic-tinged color won the cheesiness cover award. And within the course of a few days, I read it.

There's both good and bad things I can say about this book. On the one hand, it was quick to read and didn't require much thought, but on the other it was written a bit shoddily with grammatical problems, run-on sentences that were more confusing than they were descriptive, etc. Kind of a botched editing job here. Fortunately, there was nothing too bad that destroyed the novel's content.

And what is that content? Well, it's pretty much Psycho combined with a bit of woods-running Blair Witch. Wacky dude kidnaps kids, takes them to a cabin in the woods. Does Psychoesque mood swings between himself, a meaner version of himself and a woman at various intervals. Then he kills the kids, except for the two that ran away into the woods. The plot is damn simple. The twists were decent, and the character development was quite good though. Even though Uncle Dan smacked of a character already brought to film by the famous Alfred Hitchcock, giving his antics more of a deja-vu than a horrific feel, the two main children, Timmy and Susie, were well developed and acted just as you would expect children their age to act in this situation. Another like of Home Sweet Home is Ruby's use of dream sequences to reestablish portions of the plot and heighten the mood.

Funny thing about this book is even though I have read it before, I didn't remember a damn thing. It was completely new again. So either I've smoked too much over the years and lost the memory of this one, or I didn't find it memorable then. So I guess Home Sweet Home was read when I was in the mood for it and, cheese aside, I enjoyed it. It was a little predictable considering that it borrows elements from other influences I know well, but it added some flair to it along the way. Just watch you don't trip over those misplaced commas…

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"Home Sweet Home" by Ruby Jean Jensen
Copyright © 1985 by Ruby Jean Jensen
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN 0-8217-1571-2

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