Paperhouse ★★★

Could not work out why the father is so scary in the dream world and so benign in the real one, which seems like a missing bit of narrative but may actually be a brilliant omission that I’m not quite capable of appreciating. This jibes with the rest of my issues here, which mostly rotate around a desire for more explication, hinging on the suspicion that whole metaphor would work better were the source of the tension not so submerged. The best theory I can muster is a discomfort related to parental overwork, a fitting ‘80s theme. Interesting how this eschews straightforward horror, dipping into the tropes while aiming for a broader empathetic lens. No bad guy reveal in the end, and no real catharsis on her relationship with the dying boy, only the arms of a loving mother finally pulling her daughter back from the edge. Not sure why they swapped out the book’s focus on long-term illness, since that kind of scenario makes more sense for the descent into fever-dream confusion that follows, but I guess the short-term nature of the sickness here is essential for conveying a story in which the parents only gradually get involved.