Between the Covers: Bedbugs

Say it Rah-shay By Sep 07, 2011 No Comments

Or um, yuck!
r’s note: There may be some spoilers. You have been warned.

From the website:

Alex and Susan Wendt are the perfect couple in search of the perfect brownstone-and they find their dream house in the heart of Brooklyn Heights. Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric, and the handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the previous tenants. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up!

Big mistake: Susan soon discovers that the brownstone 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. Exterminators search the property and turn up nothing. Neighbors insist the building is clean. Susan fears that she’s going mad-but as the mysteries deepen, a more sinister explanation presents itself: She may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from hell.

An understated horror story filled with loving references to Rosemary’s Baby and other classic tales of urban paranoia, Bedbugs will keep your skin crawling into the wee hours of the night.

Ben H. Winters is the New York Times best-selling author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Quirk, 2009). His most recent book, the YA novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman (HarperCollins, 2010), was nominated for an Edgar Award.

This book is so much more than a the ick factor that comes from bedbugs. No, the bedbugs were actually secondary to a woman who sees her ideal life go from wonderful to horrible.

With a book titled Bedbugs, I prepared myself to be grossed out wand was ready for the icky factor that comes with creepy crawlies. What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional trauma I experienced as main character Susan Wendt’s perception of reality blurs from is real and what may not be. Susan has the ideal life but her struggles with insecurities slowly eat away at her until she isolates herself from this life she created.

The characters are real, no one character stood out although I admit that I felt a certain sympathy towards Susan as she tried to persuade her family and friends to understand that there was a problem all the while attempting to not feel guilty fior the chices she made. I am probably reading too much into the story and while there are bugs I have to wonder if Ben Winters was using the bugs as a tool to show that the problems in Susan’s marraige were imaginary until she made them real. The decisions she made about he stress of the move, the stress of a new home with less money came to play. Some of Susan’s actions annoyed me but she as Susan tried to express her worries I could understand her actions.

I was a bit disappointed with the book’s end. It felt anticlimactic and a bit rushed. The thrilling way in which Ben Winters built up tension and drama to explore the small ways in which Susan’s reality separates and differs from her families was not matched in Susan’s subsequent breakdown and the appearance of the bugs. The sensation he created with the bugs appearing but only being sort of spotted by Susan was a deliciously creepy feeling but again the end of the book, the climax was sort of flat.

This book was a quick read and while it didn’t make me want to scratch as I read, it stayed with me and had my nerves on edge as any movement caused me to question how safe I felt in my own house.

The book is available now and below is a wonderful book trailer that gives the essence of the book.
Enjoy the creepiness!

r’s note: I received an advance copy of Bedbugs to review from Quirk Books. All thoughts and words are mine


I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.

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