Ezekiel Boone is the writer of The Hatching Trilogy, and if you’re interested you can read my reviews of these books via the following links:
Book 1 – The Hatching
Book 2 – Skitter
Book 3 – Zero Day
The Mansion is his stand-alone science-fiction horror techno-thriller, which merges artificial intelligence with an old-school haunted house story. With a creepy location reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel, and a sinister AI technology, this book comes across as a mix of Stephen King horror and a Michael Crichton thriller.
With his marriage on a precariously balanced tipping point, debts up his eye-balls and substance abuse issues, life has taken a turn for the worst for Billy Stafford. But when his old multi-billionaire pal Shawn Eagle calls him with an offer he can’t refuse, things brighten up for Billy and his wife, Emily.
Nellie, an AI program first developed by Billy and Shawn shortly after graduating University, had been shelved after the boys parted ways. But now, years later Shawn’s made giant leaps in the programming and technology world, and finally brought Nellie to life. However, she currently has some issues. So Shawn invites Billy and Emily to his renovated Mansion, so that Billy can test drive and fine tune Nellie’s programming.
The vast majority of this book has numerous similarities to The Shining by Stephen King, everything from the location, to the weather, to character personalities, and even the writing style and plot. It’s almost a re-write of that novel coupled with the typical stereotypes found in stories such as this: Alcoholic father, beats wife, beats kids, kids grow-up with issues and go on to become alcoholics who beat their kids etc. ad nauseam, but with some AI and sci-fi thrown in, and not forgetting the all-important love-triangle. Despite this, and probably because of it, I really enjoyed the beginning of The Mansion. However, I got a little bored through the middle when the story began to feel stretched out, with very little of importance happening.
I was hoping for more of a horror feel to The Mansion and while there are a few horror elements, unfortunately the story is primarily techno-thriller. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this genre, or indeed of the premise of self-driving cars, despite them now becoming a reality and not just a figment of sci-fi imagination, and I always found myself squirming in discomfort every time the characters got behind the wheel of such a vehicle.
At 2 out of 5 stars I’d say the overall concept is mediocre, the AI aspects intriguing, but with all the similarities to The Shining I thought there was a lack of uniqueness to the plot which lets this book down terribly. If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s The Shining as a novel, and also enjoy techno-thrillers then you might appreciate the base concept behind The Mansion. However, be forewarned that once you pass the initial set-up and scene setting, the plot becomes slow and laboured for a long time before finally reaching its conclusion. I really wanted to love this book, but it dragged on so long in never-ending ways, with large chunks of time where absolutely nothing happens.