Monday, October 3, 2011

Bedbugs, by Ben H. Winters- Review

Few words could spark such complete terror in the hearts of City Dwellers than BEDBUGS.  I swear to god, I definitely fear them more than rats or zombies, and I was pretty damn worried about rats when I first moved to Toronto.  I mean come on, there are very few nice things said about mega cities by dwellers of smallish cities, and RATS were one of the things I heard far too much about before moving here from fellow Saskatoonians. (I will never ever forget the first time someone told me some huge honking rat could squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter!!! A quarter people!! Have you seen the size of some of the dead rats in Toronto??? ugh).

So when I stumbled upon this book at Quirk Press' booth at the BEA I was a bit too icked out to even pick it up.  I mean I was in New York, staying in a hotel, it just seemed like bad karma to pick up a book with that cover and that title.  However, the hubby did not share my horror and picked me up a copy and got it signed.  There was much knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder for the rest of our week in the big apple.

From Amazon:
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.
I won't lie, this might actually be the creepiest book I've read ever.  Seriously.  Which is insanely humorous because it was written by the amusing fellow who entertained me ever so much with Sense and Sensibility with Sea Monsters.  I know, right?!  I think I may have simultaneously gone from totally anxious, to fear of being overly anxious, to paranoia of bed bugs, to intense paranoia of all landlords and possibly husbands in the 256 pages of this book.

I loved, loved, loved the way the horror snuck up on you in this book.  For the first little while I was just shaking my head over Susan.  She was sooo worried about everything, so anxious and paranoid, I just wanted to hand her a bottle of wine and tell her to kick back and chill out a little.  But in no time Winters had creeped me out enough, in tiny little increments, I was starting to feel like Susan and I were both going to need a good bottle of tequila, screw the wine.  And the stigma over just the possibility you have bedbugs!  Fabulous.  I don't doubt for a minute that in the Big Apple people have been snubbed play dates over rumors of bedbugs.  Give Toronto a couple more years of bedbug turmoil and I guarantee there will be snubbed play dates.

The sign of a truly creepy book is when you're somewhere all by yourself, and it's quiet, and usually dark, and suddenly some god awful creepy image comes into your head, from whatever book you read it in, even if it was three books back in the reading history, and all you want to do is run and hide under the blankets.  Well lets just say I should not have read this prior to staying home alone for four days.  Even though I was on a reading binge, and read four other books during those four days I absolutely could not stop thinking about the landlord and the bedbugs and all the lovey ickiness of the story. 

This story was so creepy I'm insisting the hubby, a great lover of horror, read it.  Although few books live up to his standards I have a feeling this one will.

Bedbugs, by Ben H. Winters
Published by Quirk Press, September 2011
Buy Bedbugs on Amazon
Check out Ben's website


  1. Every review of this talks about how creepy it is, I have got to read it!

  2. OMG I saw this book at BEA too but could not make myself pick it up!!! I just knew it would bring bedbugs with me back to the hotel room simply by virtue of the title! Oh man I don't know if I could read this one....I am so creeped out by those things AND I LIVE IN A SMALL TOWN!!! Virtually no bedbugs around here in these mountains! You are a brave woman!

  3. I'm glad to see you loved it! It's on my wishlist, but I must admit I've been wondering how he could possibly make bedbugs worse than they already are, lol.

  4. I'll have to read this! I saw it in the bookstore the other day but didn't pick it up ... I figured it wouldn't be that scary, but I'm glad to see you thought it was creepy. I'm adding it to my list!

  5. Wow your review is great. I cant wait to get this book tomorrow.. I did not think it would be that scary but now I am getting it !!! :0)

  6. Read it, then all of you tell me how creeped out you were! it was great!

  7. This is a fun read. You'll probably stay up late, if you dare, into the night because you won't be able to put it down. It will be a great book to read when the chilly weather of Autumn rolls in. This book is smooth, polished, and very well done. It's a creepy escape that you're going to love.

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