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Publisher's Summary

Ben and Marian Rolfe are desperate to escape a stifling summer in their tiny Brooklyn apartment, so when they get the chance to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire summer for only $900, it's an offer that's too good to refuse. There's only one catch: behind a strange and intricately carved door in a distant wing of the house lives elderly Mrs. Allardyce, and the Rolfes will be responsible for preparing her meals.

But Mrs. Allardyce never seems to emerge from her room, and it soon becomes clear that something weird and terrifying is happening in the house. As the suspense builds toward a revelation of what really lies behind that locked door, the Rolfes will discover that their cheap vacation rental comes at a terrible cost....

The basis for a classic 1976 film adaptation and an acknowledged influence on Stephen King's The Shining, Burnt Offerings is one of the most original and scariest haunted house novels ever written. This edition, the first in decades, features a new introduction by award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones.

©1973 Robert Marasco (P)2016 Blue Heron Audio

Critic Reviews

" Burnt Offerings has no peer. Better than Rosemary's Baby, The Other, and The Exorcist." ( Hartford Courant)
"Insidiously frightening...It snares you early and draws you inexorably to one of the most nerve-shattering finales in years." ( Publishers Weekly)

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Haunted house story more creepy than horrific

This is really a psychological thriller than a horror novel - more creep than scare, and think that's terrific, because that makes for a better book. It's quite clear that there are elements that inspired Stephen King when he wrote The Shining, though the writing style is obviously different. Even though this takes place in the Hamptons, it shares a lot of elements with Southern Gothic stories, including an isolated house with a tragic past, aged owners who've fallen from their prime years of wealth and health, and a sick old relative up in the attic.

It's like a slow burn rather than a raging fire.

35 of 36 people found this review helpful

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Burnt?More like charred..

I've heard about this story for years and was quite excited to hear what partially inspired authors like Stephen King.The narration was excellent in emoting the family's urban cage,its problems and eccentrics and the anticipation of getting away from it all.Even the odd couple at the getaway was enthralling to hear,the reverence held for the longtime home.Even after the oppressive influence of the true nature of the place begins to emerge,the struggle seems to wear out the suspense.It becomes monotonous,and im convinced that in the 70s,suspense was set at a low bar.Im glad to be to cross this off my list.Im even checking into other books by the author,but i dont see what all the fuss is over.BUT I will still refer this to others,i really was entertained and submerged in the story thanks to R.C. Bray.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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As Scary As I Remember

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, if they like horror stories that do not rely on blood and guts to terrify.

What about R.C. Bray’s performance did you like?

RC Bray is an excellent performer however, he would not have been my first voice for this book. It could be I'm used to listening to him doing action thrillers. I think a female performer may have been a better choice.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This book was made into a film with the same title. It's very well done and one of my all time favorite movies. If you haven't seen it you really should. The movie is actually better than the book thanks in part to Karen Black and Betty Davis.

Any additional comments?

This book was released in the 1970s so sure it's a little dated but still delivers chills.

52 of 58 people found this review helpful

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Happy Nightmares!


I love a scary book in October, and ESPECIALLY one that features an *old* maybe creepy couple! (No offense, by the definition in most books, I'm one of them!) Damn, if those *old* people don't continually throw down the scary with evil finesse that beats any long black wet-haired child crawling out of a well, reaching out through the TV. Sure, those are great jumper scares -- but put in a pair of seemingly sweet elderly people and you know you're dealing with some serious, well-seasoned soul suckers. Think of the sweet little old Minnie and Roman Castevet...from Rosemary's Baby. (Ruth Gordon, indisputable queen of the sweet old doddering minions of Satan.) Add an over the top Gothic mansion full of extravagant antiquities, tarnished, blanketed with cobwebs; a dilapidated greenhouse with rows of dead and twisted exotic plants; a swimming pool choked with dark muck; and a wing of the house occupied by an unseen old invalid...Yahoo! Let the wild ruckus start!

I can't even offer any review of the writing itself, or the narration...I was just enjoying myself too much listening to how this unfolded. You probably can figure out the plot, but you'll still be oblivious to forming any criticisms, busy instead yelling, "No! Stay out of the pool, out of the greenhouse; don't open that sitting room door, get your gray hair touched-up!" This is pure fun. Creepy, spooky, and I really did notice it is written well. Diserving of the caption: *Valancourt 20th Century Classics.* If you are a reader that needs at least a seasonal spooky-fix, reach back in time for this absolute classic. I thought I had exhausted all of the horror novels available in my youth; I'm glad I left this one to be discovered now -- like finding one more piece of candy in an exhausted trick-or-treat bag full of wrappers.

43 of 49 people found this review helpful

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As chilling as the movie

I can understand younger readers finding this book slow or not scary but it is a psychological horror story.
Ever since I was a child and saw this movie with my brother on Chiller (without my moms permission) I have had nightmares about the chauffeur and the mere sound of an idling car outside my window in the middle of the night terrified me...til this day I never put the bed facing the door.
If you had read the Ametyville Horror or The Shining you would understand...the movies for all 3 were scarier but that is because they brought to the forefront the creepiness one felt while reading this book.
But again if you grew up with more "in your face" horror stories you may not feel as afraid. If needed watch the movie first and then read the story so you "get it" better.
Arí St Marie

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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YANKEE DOODLE

NO SECRETS, NO DARK THOUGHTS, THAT'S FOR MUSHROOMS
This came close to five stars for it's literary merits. It's an entertaining story, even though it is predictable and fairly cliché. I do not feel I wasted my credit. This is one of the very few times in which I disagree with my fellow reviewer Kim, as this was not scary. The last twenty minutes were a little scary, but you got to listen to 7 hours and 25 minutes to get there. I was also not satisfied with the ending, of which the whole book is a lead up to.
Bray
I can't bray loud enough the talents of R.C.

57 of 71 people found this review helpful

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That ending!!

"...an acknowledged influence on Stephen King's 'The Shining'...." is why I chose this book. Ben and Marian are a likeable couple, and their young son, David, is a typical, sweet boy. I really felt for this young family. Wanting to get out of the city for the summer, they become caretakers for a huge, sprawling old house, and the old lady who lives within. Or so they think. The story is a slow burn and R. C. Bray was perfect for it. I was not expecting that ending at all!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Almira
  • PHOENIX, AZ, United States
  • 09-29-16

Gothic and spooky slow burn

I loved this older book (1973?) that I'd never heard of before and finished it in about a day.
I enjoy a 'haunted house' book and appreciate the understated slow burn type of writing used here. Reminded me a little of early Stephen King. I liked all the detail and that some of it was left ambiguous, so that the reader could make up their own mind.
If you are looking for blood, terror and a galloping plot of thrills, this might not be the book for you.
That said, I entirely enjoyed it. Glad it's in my collection.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 10-28-17

An American classic? Really?

The book is okay, almost. The best aspect was the superb narration by R.C. Bray. I missed the book and movie when they were released in 1976. I missed a lot during that period. My job was demanding, my wife was a stay at home mom, and our three children ages 7, 5, and 3 were often little hellians determined to undermine my wife's mental and emotional stability by endlessly fighting with each other and making a mess of the house. So often giving her two or three hours of recovery time to herself was priority one when I arrived home around 6 PM. My lifelong reading habit was low priority. Two of the great pleasures of life are observing those three grow up to become contributing citizens we are proud of AND watching them go through the same issues with their own children. After listening to Burnt Offerings, yesterday's Daily Deal, I cannot regret missing it in 1976.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim N
  • Chicago, IL
  • 10-07-17

Slow and Steady Doesn't Quite Win This Race

As other reviewers here have said, this is primarily a psychological novel so don't expect monsters or gore. It's well written and Marasco does an excellent job of taking the reader/listener through the gradual psychological transformation of his main characters, particularly Marian. There's a subtext about wealth and class but basically, this story starts at point A and proceeds steadily and directly to point B, without interesting stops along the way. There's a central mystery that isn't answered until the end but by the time the book gets there, most readers will have figured out the destination.

I enjoyed the book but I'm afraid I didn't find it as scary or as interesting as I had hoped.

R.C. Bray does an excellent job with the narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kim
  • 08-18-16

Burn it out

Fantastic and original story. You can see how it's influenced The Shining. The only drawback for me was some of the overzealous voice acting from 'Brother' when first encountered - it leant more of a comical tone rather than creepy. And there are some uncomfortable sexual encounters. Brilliant otherwise.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • dc
  • 10-30-17

Read t book, watched t movie, enjoyed t audio

Bought this as it is an old favourite. Knew I would enjoy the story and the only question was the narration. It was good. I enjoyed every minute of it. A good reason why this is a simple classic. It is not a classic per say - corset ramble - I think it takes place in the 60s - 70s and has stood the test of time because you can't go wrong with it.

You should buy it if you like a bit of spook.

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  • Mr Patel
  • 08-09-17

Not a great book - just didn't gain momentum

The story started off slow, gained a bit of momentum and then just didn't take off for me. It dragged on and there wasn't any point where I was hooked such that I world look forward to the next time I listened to it. RC Bray was great with his narration, as usual, but this book just didn't work. Not the worst book I've read/listened to but not one I would recommend.

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  • Luigi Clemente
  • 06-19-17

Lost opportunities

Good idea, poor development. Nice, eerie atmosphere but the story has too much padding and feels a bit pointless and dragged, despite the writing skills of the author.

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  • L
  • 06-08-17

Great story

I really enjoyed this book. It has an interesting storyline and is well written. I also enjoyed the narration. R,C. Bray has a clear, pleasant voice that is nice to listen to. The only downside was that I was expecting it to be at least a little scary but it wasn't at all. In fact it wasn't even creepy. Otherwise this was very enjoyable and I would happily try another title by this author or with this narrator.