“A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…
Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman…
A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…”
I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the House of Spines blog tour. House of Spines is written by Michael J. Malone and was published by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017. I adored (okay, adored may be a bit of an understatement!) Malone’s first Orenda release, the incredible A Suitable Lie. It totally took my breath away and remains, nearly a year after reading it, at the very top of my favourite books of all time list! If you missed my review the first time around or would like a quick reminder of exactly how much I loved A Suitable Lie then please click here.
So, I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but House of Spines had an awful lot to live up to. What needs to be clarified at this point is that, to me, these two books written by the same author, published by the mighty Orenda are completely different works. I don’t think they can be compared and to be honest, I don’t want to. House of Spines was a very different reading experience for me.
Ranald McGhie was a likeable lead. He exudes an air of hopelessness which appealed, as well as his love of the written word (who doesn’t love books?!). I also enjoyed the relationships he had with the women in his life; ex-wife Martie and elderly neighbour, Donna. Ranald cannot believe his luck when he is left the imposing Newton Hall by his late Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick. Having never met his uncle it takes Ranald time to come to terms with the idea. Not only has he inherited a house but also two staff, a housekeeper and her husband who tends the garden. It’s like a dream come true. That is until strange things to start to happen…
I loved the creepiness of Malone’s writing. He really knows how to make his reader feel uneasy which I think is a great skill. The prose was so wonderfully poetic in places that I became entranced and totally engrossed in Ran’s story. The one thing I will say is that I do feel that a rather large dollop of artistic licence has been used in the creation of this novel. But that’s okay, right? After all, if you can’t bend the rules a little in fiction, then when can you? I’m a stickler for accuracy and ‘real life’ in my crime reads but this is a psychological thriller, so…..
Would I recommend this book? I would. If you haven’t picked up a Michael J. Malone book before then you MUST. If you’re after a read that is a little different to most everything else then House of Spines may be the one for you. It’s a dark and eerie read which had me on the edge of my seat. It has however left me with a couple of unanswered questions. A re-read may be in order!
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an eARC of House of Spines. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
House of Spines by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.