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The Mansion

Review

The Mansion

The plot of THE MANSION --- an Alexa-like computer takes over her creator’s life and threatens his family --- is a bit of a cliché by now. But somehow author Ezekiel Boone has pulled it off, making both the plot and characters surprisingly compelling.

The story begins with Emily and Billy Stafford, a couple who met when Billy was working with Shawn Eagle on a revolutionary artificial intelligence program. Emily had been Shawn’s girlfriend, but when she and Billy fell in love, they left the house where they had been living and Billy signed over his rights to the program for a modest sum of money. A third partner already had left under mysterious circumstances, so Shawn owned all rights.

"[T]he dramatic resolution is unforeseeable yet, in the end, inescapable. Readers who like their tech thrillers tinged with horror won’t be able to put this one down."

A dozen years later, when the novel opens, Shawn --- now fabulously wealthy --- asks Billy to come back to help him with Nellie, an Alexa-like program that was Billy’s creation when they worked together. Nellie has never been fully functioning, and for reasons that are at first unclear, Shawn can’t live with that failure.

Meanwhile, Billy has been fired from every job he’s held, in part because of his alcoholism, but also because he’s never forgiven Shawn for taking away his creation. He’s sober now, yet he and Emily constantly struggle to pay their bills. So, although they are wary of Shawn’s offer, they decide to take him up on it and move back to the house where it all started. It has been built up into a huge estate, and the town nearby also has been completely reimagined as a charming Adirondacks village, courtesy of Shawn, who runs most of the businesses.

At first, all is well with the three old friends, but soon odd things begin to happen in and around the house. When Emily’s sister comes for Christmas with her husband and twin daughters --- who were conceived in the house back when Billy and Shawn worked together --- Nellie begins to reveal her true self. Programmed by Billy and the missing third partner, Takata, Nellie has mutated so it’s unclear who she considers to be her true master.

The bizarre events that ensue as Billy, Shawn and Emily try to figure out how to outmaneuver her are outlandish but compelling. And the dramatic resolution is unforeseeable yet, in the end, inescapable. Readers who like their tech thrillers tinged with horror won’t be able to put this one down.

Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley on December 7, 2018

The Mansion
by Ezekiel Boone

  • Publication Date: December 4, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Horror, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
  • ISBN-10: 150116550X
  • ISBN-13: 9781501165504