To Scoff or Not to Scoff: A Review on Jay Anson’s “The Amityville Horror”

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There are definitely clashing opinions on this book, evident by scrolling through the internet alone. After reading the inconsistent reviews on GoodReads recently and the sheer fact that my family and I are in the middle of a “no TV” hiatus for the next two weeks, I decided to finally read it myself. Such a shame that I hadn’t read it before as it’s an incredibly popular story that was first published well-before I was born–1977.

AM_coverThough the cover of my copy–a ragged thing I found at a library sale a few months ago– boasts that it is an “incredible, bestselling true story,” there’s no real and consistent evidence to support anything the Lutz family claims. But even if the family told their truth, there would naturally be both skeptics and believers. And well, honestly, no one who didn’t live in the house during the Lutz family’s crazy 28 days in the house, will ever really know the truth. But, maybe–just maybe–we aren’t supposed to! I mean, some of the events that supposedly take place according to Anson and the Lutz family are a bit over the top for a non-fiction if it is one; a house is essentially physically destroyed without anyone ever hearing the damage being done, a woman’s face molds into an old stranger’s, phantom welts appear, secret unmapped rooms are found, a burial ground compounds the problem, levitation, unbearable temperatures, invisible marching bands, a Catholic priest, a well-known local story about a boy who murders his family, giant pig demons, and more. That’s a whole lot of nope to deal with.
Anyway, the storyline is good to really good–true or not. Anson wrote the book in a reporter’s tone so depending on your taste, it could be dry or just acceptable. If you’re an editor like me, page 114 is a good place to skip because it will probably kill your soul a little:
“Kathy came out of the house with his light and his parka” (114). (You mean George!)
I have to give Anson credit for how he constructed the book though; it goes back and forth between characters a lot and flows day by day until the family eventually flees the house. This construction allows the reader to be able to really dig in to the details that finally push the family out.
I think this story will forever be popular because of the anomaly that it is. No matter how much skeptics scoff at the “based on the true story” stamped boldly across the cover, it’s still a scary read–disturbing even. This is definitely a book to read in broad daylight…with friends around.
-E