sWitch by Scott Norton

sWitch is a wonderful novel by Scott Norton. It is a simple story. A seemingly normal family inherits a creepy house in the woods and is brutally attacked twice in one night. Seems pretty basic, right? Well Norton takes this basic plot and infuses it with his truly fresh voice, thus creating one incredible novel.

sWitch starts off with the ideal suburban scene- expensive house, nice cars, even a Felix the Kit Kat Wall Klock. The whole thing drips with a cavity inducing sugary sweet veneer that is almost nauseating. Then we meet the members of the Ducharme family and discover these dark undercurrents rippling just below the surface. It was a pleasure to watch as Norton wove the dysfunction into the fabric of this seemingly perfect family. Every member of the Ducharme clan keeps their depravities a secret- distancing them from the rest of the family. It isn’t until the insanely intriguing Mrs. Barbara Ducharme reveals her involvement in the dark arts that the family is able to come together and revel in their strangeness. They harness the power that their outcast status has given them (with some slightly demonic help) and the result is a thought provoking, humorous, gory and, above all, truly satisfying reading experience. This book could have been completely hokey if handled in a different manner. Lucky for us Norton was able to balance the humor and the horror with a tongue-in-cheek style that was completely original.

Norton takes a lot of chances with sWitch. How many horror novels take an intelligent look at the family structure? Not many. He has the unique ability to draw you in with a well told story and then challenge you with complex themes. This is a welcome change in a genre with so much well-worn material.