Picks and Pans Review: 666

updated 06/08/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/08/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Jay Anson

The characters—with names like Jennifer, David, Paul and Keith—are almost entirely devoid of personality, so who cares when they get involved with an old house that has been moved onto land in Westchester County, just above New York City? The house, No. 666, has a six-sided parlor, and at sunset the red-glass windows of this odd room take on a devilish glow. It comes as no surprise when chilling, inexplicable things happen. Jay Anson, who died last year at 58, was the author of The Amityville Horror, a silly "nonfiction" bestseller about a house on Long Island where multiple murders of purported supernatural origin took place. While 666 doesn't pretend to any origins in truth, it would be a lot better if Anson had been a more skillful writer and if someone had exorcised the exclamation mark on his typewriter! The frightening moments—locked doors swing open, an ancient coin falls from the ceiling—are clichés in this kind of fiction. The ending is predictably violent, and an epilogue, during which the house is moved to a new location, suggests the devil's spooky house is going to work its hideous destruction on a new set of characters. (Simon and Schuster, $12.95)

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