By W. C. Ryan
Published by Zaffre (4 October 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher
Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .
I loved this spooky book, with its wartime theme, haunted house and claustrophobic Island setting.
House of Ghosts is an old-fashioned ghost story set in 1917, mixed with Christie-type classic crime and espionage. It's grim, dark and chilling, highlighting the mental and physical scars of the returning soldiers and the grief of the families of those who didn't return from the war at all.
Here, you have a locked room scenario, with an authentic array of characters trapped on a windswept island off the Devon coastline, a murderer among them. There are grieving hosts, dubious clairvoyants, dedicated staff and some unexpected house guests. The two main characters, Kate and Donovan, investigate lies and deception, murder and sabotage. The house, Blackwater Abbey, is a character in its own right, with its ghostly corridors, secret passages and tunnels and creaky floorboards.
Short snappy chapters keep the storyline moving at a fast pace, with lots of cliffhangers, heart-pounding moments and surprises in store. I was having such a great time reading this murder mystery that I really didn't want it to end. Despite its unsettling nature, the book is filled with humour, creating an enjoyable atmospheric read. I don't know if this is the start of a series. But I'm hoping there will be another book featuring Kate and Donovan, with more espionage and ghostly goings-on.
Perfect for dark stormy nights, as well as cold winter one!