Hazards in the Home is a short, paranormal novel by Rachael Bates. I was not familiar with the work of Bates prior to this reading, and the short summary which described the book sounded extremely enticing, so I was very excited to read this piece.
My excitement was quickly quelled within the first few pages. The novel paints a picture, albeit a poor one, of a freak accident that occurred in a chemical plant, unoriginally named Toxico, in a small town in Canada and the paranormal effects that this happening ignited. The story alternates between the year 2015, when a new family whom had never head of the accident moved into the town, and the year 1990 when the accident actually occurred.
The novel is very disjointed. It is told from the points of view of too many different characters, and you are never quite sure who is talking, and to what they are referring. The opening of the book I felt began very strong, explaining the accident from the point of view of Katherine, a girl who was in class during the explosion and survived. She lamented over why Toxico was so important to the town and yet why it was also so feared as the accidents surrounding the plant where very frequent and common knowledge. If the novel would have stayed in her point of view in each time period or even included her as an anchor character throughout the plot, I feel that the book would have been greatly improved, however since this was not the case, or the case for any of the characters in the book, it felt very ungrounded. There wasn’t really any solid idea that I could hold on to and take away as a reader who understood the plot that had just been presented to me.
I do feel like this would be a good first draft for a short story. It was much shorter than anticipated, and I was very surprised that it ended as abruptly as it did. It was not a story that ran out of ideas. On the contrary it was a story that ended with too many ideas unfinished. Perhaps the author was simply in a rush to get a story out, but perhaps if a little more time was taken and the book as extended into a full novel, the concept would have greatly enhanced as each thought could have been completed. To me it read more like a concept piece for a screen play than a short novel. Also, I counted at least half a dozen typos, which only adds to my theory of the piece being a rushed effort.
The story was full of a lot of very good ideas, and if those ideas were simply fleshed out a little more, the arc would have contained more substance. There is a good foundation in all of the characters, but I don’t feel as if I really got to know or understand any of them. They each had something that I wished I knew more about, and not in a good way. Maybe if the characters were more well-rounded, the story itself would have made more sense. Because there were so many characters with so many different trajectories, it was hard to pinpoint exactly where the story was taking you.
I give this short novel 2 out of 5 morals. The plot was original, but it was very sporadic. I had a very difficult time discerning who’s voice was speaking at a given time, and at points confused as to why certain content was where it was and how it was furthering the central plot. There were many different bunny trials that had the book been longer would have sufficed to round out the mystery surrounding the central theme, but as it stands it only distracted from what I believe to be was the main story line, which was the paranormal activity, caused by the conspiracy and cover up of the Toxico plant explosion. Had the plot focused on this theme instead of getting lost in other trivial matters, I feel the rating of this book would have greatly increased and would experience great success. I hope that Bates continues to work on this story and develop the potential that it displays into a book worthy of the greatness of the idea.