BURNT OFFERINGS by Robert Marasco

PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press, 1973
GENRE: Contemporary Suspense/Horror
WIKI: link

FROM PUBLISHER: Ben and Marian Rolfe are desperate to escape a stifling summer in their tiny Brooklyn apartment, so when they get the chance to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire season for only $900, it's an offer that's too good to refuse. There's only one catch: behind a strange and intricately carved door in a distant wing of the house lives elderly Mrs. Allardyce, and the Rolfes will be responsible for preparing her meals.

But Mrs. Allardyce never seems to emerge from her room, and it soon becomes clear that something weird and terrifying is happening in the house. As the suspense builds towards a revelation of what really lies behind that locked door, the Rolfes will discover that their cheap vacation rental comes at a terrible cost. 

MY THOUGHTS: Slow, boring, and not very suspenseful. It should have been a novella instead. I was barely anxious to see what happened at the end. The ending wasn't anything like I expected.  Characters were totally underdeveloped, all of 'em. I cannot understand the 'burnt' part of the title. What was burnt?!

The film wasn't that great either but was a little better than the novel. And the best part was the creepy-ass hearse driver who kept showing up.


In the book Marian had dark blonde hair but in the film it was dark brown.

In the book her hair turned totally white but in the film her hair just had some gray streaks in it that I barely noticed.

The son, David, was eight years old in the book but twelve in the film.

In the book, Marian calls the doctor after Aunt Elizabeth is found in bed, hurt. In the film Marian only pretends to call the doctor.

In the book, David drowns in the swimming pool. In the film, his mother saves him.

In the book, while David's drowning, his father tries to save him but can barely move. Blood runs out of his eyes and he falls onto the pavement and dies. In the book Ben dies when he's thrown out of a window. David dies when a chimney falls on him.

In the book, Marian gets into the locked room where the elder Mrs. Allardyce is. She's "hideously old, leaning forward in a great chair, with her eyes blazing out at Marian." She then dissolves, leaving the chair empty for Marian to take her place. In the film we never see Mrs. Allardyce. Ben goes back into the house to look for Marian and finds her in the room, sitting in the chair previously occupied by Mrs. Allardyce and looking possessed.

You can read someone's review of the book here and here.