Ben H. Winters
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: September 2011
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 256 (paperback)
Author Site: http://www.benhwinters.com/
My Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Received for review from publisher
FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.
Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment.
Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up.
Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell.
Bedbugs is creepy, creepy, creepy! But oh so good... It isn't just a thriller/horror story. Bedbugs instills a sense of paranoia that I found frightening. The reader doesn't quite know whether to trust the state of mind of the main character which always makes an interesting read.
The characters were very realistic, which I appreciated. Susan has recently left her legal aid job to pursue her artistic dreams while leaving it to her husband, Alex, to take care of the financial obligations. They have a young daughter, Emma, who is very bright and energetic. A nanny comes by to help Susan so she can concentrate on the housework and her artwork. The family has been trying to find the right place to move to for some time and they find their dream apartment when they least expect it. I liked the landlord and her eccentricity...but there are sinister things going on in "too-good-to-be-true-land". Susan's family, her life, and her sanity are soon in a danger Susan never, ever thought to encounter.
I admit I was a little annoyed by all the modern references, especially in the beginning of the book. I felt the author didn't need to constantly name everything the characters used, i.e. Craigslist, Ray-Bans, Facebook, etc I just didn't feel that I needed to know every brand name the author could slap onto the pages...It was just unncessary in my opinion...But I quickly got over it as I got more into the plot of the story. I loved how realistic everything was. Bed bugs are scary, period. The stigma concerning bed bugs is very real and I hate to admit I may even contribute to it. I liked how the reader was able to witness all of suffering that took place in Susan's life and her relationships because of what was happening to her. There are many points in the story where Susan's state of mind is (with good reason) questioned. I couldn't help but imagine what I would do in her position and I honestly didn't even want to...
The ending was very good, I wasn't quite expecting it...I liked that I was kept on the "edge of my seat" during parts of the story. I'm a fan of Ben's work. It's unique and different and I like that. I'm looking forward to seeing what he dishes out next. I think Bedbugs will be a smashing hit with thriller fans...it will leave you itching for more...!! Haha, sorry I had to do it =D