Title: Audrey’s Door
Author: Sarah Langan
Published by: Harper
Release Date: October 1, 2009
What if the monster wasn’t in your closet, but was your closet? Audrey, a young architect who is afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder, has recently dumped her fiancé and moved out. However, finding affordable rent in New York isn’t easy. When she stumbles across a cheap apartment in a building known as The Breviary, Audrey is drawn in by more than just the price — by The Breviary itself. The Breviary is the last standing testament to an architectural and intellectual movement called Chaotic Naturalism, and it wants an architect.
Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not usually a horror/suspense fan, but Audrey’s Door definitely had some aspects about it I liked very much. However, I found the story overall a little lacking. I do like that, as a main character, Audrey is flawed — very flawed. She suffers from OCD and has an attachment disorder which keeps her from forming meaningful relationships with others. When she does, however, find love, she eventually feels confined and leaves. As much as I like that she’s flawed, I felt that there wasn’t really any reason given for me to be rooting for her. I felt more attachment to her fiancé, her boss, and one of her neighbors than I did for her.
As an architect, Audrey can’t help but be drawn in by the one-of-a-kind (still standing) opportunity that The Breviary presents, or the price, which is how you know everything isn’t all right. That, and the doorman showing her the apartment pretty much told her not to move in. What happens next is all pretty foreseeable, which was disappointing. After the building entices Audrey, it starts showing off its darker side. Its residents, save one other single woman, are all descendants of the original owners and are all advanced in age and craziness.
In itself, the story of a building “haunted” because of the forces that were triggered by its very existence could have been a very interesting — and maybe even thrilling — story. I feel that Audrey’s Door tried to do a little too much, though. When moments were getting tense and the reading audience was discovering the horrible past of The Breviary, the narrative would switch gears and fixate a little long on Audrey’s past, which really only played into the story a little bit, and wasn’t even necessary. It reminded me very much of Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story. Both try to tell two stories when they only really need to tell one. In this case, the effect that the apartment building and its residents were having on Audrey would have been story enough.
Had there been no distractions, this could have been a really interesting story. I really was intrigued by the idea of the building being evil based on its construction, like a spell cast through brick and mortar rather than words. The terrifying part was the psychological impact the building had on those who lived under its roof; everything else was tangential and unnecessary. Audrey’s Door had potential, but it didn’t deliver. I wouldn’t exactly condemn it, but I wouldn’t look to it for page-turning thrills either.
Rating: 3 / 5 stars