A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson ★★☆☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog

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Primary Genre(s): Horror, Supernatural, Paranormal
Published: first published 1958 by J.B. Lippincott & Co.
Page count: 224 (print)
My Format: audiobook via Hoopla Digital
Cover: Good
Pacing: Okay
Ending: Ugh
Would I recommend it: Maybe
Commission Link: Buy A Stir of Echoes

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Tom Wallace lived an ordinary life, until a chance event awakened psychic abilities he never knew he possessed. Now he’s hearing the private thoughts of the people around him-and learning shocking secrets he never wanted to know. But as Tom’s existence becomes a waking nightmare, even greater jolts are in store as he becomes the unwilling recipient of a compelling message from beyond the grave!

My Thoughts
I can’t even believe I am about to type this. It actually PAINS me to type this. Ugh… I think the movie was way better than the book. Here are my pros and cons for A Stir of Echoes:

Pros

  1. The thought of hypnosis causing someone to hear people’s thoughts, foretell events, and even hear voices from the grave was an interesting and disturbing premise.

Cons

  1. This book was too methodical and procedural to be scary. Yes, there were scary moments, but they were few and far between (at least for me). The story almost read more like a police procedural than a horror novel. Horror novels need to be full of emotion, suspense, fear, and surprise. I never got that uncomfortable and disturbing feeling I normally get from reading other horror novels. This book really didn’t evoke any emotions in me at all.
  2. Because of the methodical/procedural aspect of the story, I got a little bored from time to time. This is only a 224 page book – getting bored from time to time isn’t a good sign for any book of that length, much less a horror novel!
  3. I didn’t get emotionally invested in or the least bit scared by the ghost. (That’s not a spoiler by the way, the synopsis says he is contacted from beyond the grave.) The ghost wasn’t present enough in the book to really impact me one way or the other.
  4. Tom’s wife seriously irritated me. I didn’t like her character at all in the book.
  5. The very end of the book infuriated me. I won’t say what happened, but jeez it really irritated me.

Summary
After I finished this book last night, I pulled out my old DVD of Stir of Echoes (the movie dropped “A” from the title) and watched it again . The movie really bears little resemblance to the book other than a man gains psychic abilities after being hypnotized. Honestly, in my opinion, all of the things that I thought were missing from the book were incorporated into the movie and the movie was much better for it. According to Wikipedia, the director (David Koepp) sought Matheson’s approval on the script and was nervous that he wouldn’t like all the changes he’d made to the story. However, Matheson responded positively to the changes and approved the script. So, it might be reasonable to surmise that even Matheson realized the changes improved the story.

Perhaps in 1958, when this book was first published, this was considered a scary story. I recently read and reviewed Rosemary’s Baby (published in 1967) and I didn’t find it particularly scary either. Maybe old horror novels just don’t age well in general, or maybe I just expect more from them since I’ve read so many modern horror novels that legit scared the bejeebies out of me. It is probably a combination of both.

All that said, this is just an okay book for me and the movie was way, way better. If you are a horror fan, I would actually encourage you to read the book and then watch the movie like I did. I think then you’d probably at least generally agree with my opinion about both.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy A Stir of Echoes. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

13 thoughts on “A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson ★★☆☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog

  1. I consistently find that old horror is not scary. Maybe because I’ve been desensitized. (Lots of thrillers under my belt). It’s so interesting that the movie was better than the book! I’ve never really heard of that happening! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think older horror tends to be more subtle than the modern horrors and thrillers. And don’t get me wrong, subtle can be absolutely terrifying, but it has to be done perfectly to work.

    And it was hard to admit I liked the movie better! I feel like I should give back my library card now or something!! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m an immense fan of Richard Matheson and his ability to set horror in the modern world, but this isn’t one of his better stories. Given his years of working in film and TV, I’m not surprised he was cool with having his story changed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hell House is the only other book of his that I’ve read and that was a million years ago. I should read that one again sometime because I don’t really remember much about it.

    Like

  5. That one’s very close to the movie, which is excellent (I saw the movie first, so I prefer it). His Shrinking Man is quite terrifying (I love spiders, but I still recoil from the spider in the basement) and so is I Am Legend. Duel as a non-supernatural suspense thriller is chilling (driver has to deal with psycho truck driver stalking him and trying to run him off the road).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I added The Shrinking Man to my TBR the other day. His books seem generally short. I’ll just have to read them all! Particularly if A Stir of Echoes wasn’t one of his best as you stated. I have to give him at least one more chance to scare me! 🙂

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