Johnny Compton’s The Spite House – a Black Southern Gothic in the vein of The Others meets A Headful of Ghosts, in which a father on the run with his two daughters agrees to move into a house to prove whether it is haunted – will be published by Nightfire in February 2023!
Eric Ross is on the run from a mysterious past with his two daughters in tow. Having left his wife, his house, his whole life behind in Maryland, he’s desperate for money–it’s not easy to find safe work when you can’t provide references, you can’t stay in one place for long, and you’re paranoid that your past is creeping back up on you.
When he comes across the strange ad for the Masson House in Degener, Texas, Eric thinks they may have finally caught a lucky break. The Masson property, notorious for being one of the most haunted places in Texas, needs a caretaker of sorts. The owner is looking for proof of paranormal activity. All they need to do is stay in the house and keep a detailed record of everything that happens there. Provided the house’s horrors don’t drive them all mad, like the caretakers before them.
The job calls to Eric, not just because there’s a huge payout if they can make it through, but because he wants to explore the secrets of the spite house. If it is indeed haunted, maybe it’ll help him understand the uncanny power that clings to his family, driving them from town to town, making them afraid to stop running. A terrifying Gothic thriller about grief and death and the depths of a father’s love, Johnny Compton’s The Spite House is a stunning debut by a horror master in the making.
Here’s what Johnny Compton has to say:
“When I came across an article about spite houses and ventured into the history of these strange places dotted across America, I knew one would make an ideal setting for a haunted house story. At the same time, I knew that The Spite House couldn’t stand on the curiosity of its location alone. It was my objective to make every character someone you might know, or go out of your way to learn more about. I wanted to make readers imagine themselves in each difficult, dangerous situation, regardless of whether the threat was human or supernatural, and wonder what they would do to save their loved ones, or themselves. And, although parts of the novel reference historical events specific to the Texas Hill Country, I’m convinced that history will remind readers of things that have happened in their part of the world, no matter where they’re from.”
And from Daphne Durham, executive editor at MCD/FSG:
“I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with a book from its very title, but that is what happened with Johnny Compton’s The Spite House. I was held in thrall from that first page, watching the Ross family make their way across the US and into that house [shudder]. What impressed me most about Johnny was not his ability to scare the hell out of me (I read the book in nearly one sitting, hunched over my computer, hands over my eyes, whispering to myself ‘Don’t you dare go in there’) but the humanity and humor he brings to the page. Johnny gets right to the heart of what I love about horror–stories that scare people, but for all their strangeness, feel personal, universal. You don’t just root for the Ross family, you are with them, every step of the way. They are as alive as the house itself. (Oh, and it is hungry.)”
JOHNNY COMPTON‘s short horror fiction has appeared in Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, The No Sleep Podcast, and many other markets. His story “FFUNS” appeared on the preliminary ballot for the 2020 Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. He also operates the podcast, Healthy Fears, which focuses on how our fears are explored through fiction, folklore and more.
Photo by Louis Scott – Scott Photography, San Antonio, TX
The Spite House will hit shelves on February 7, 2023!