A House of Ghosts
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 . . .
When Lord Highmount arranges a spiritualist gathering at Blackwater Abbey, he does so with a small but strong hope of contacting his two sons who perished in the war. The abbey’s past is dark and for many centuries it has been rumoured to be haunted. But by whose ghosts? His guests, two of which are renowned spiritualists, come bearing secrets they are determined to keep hidden. But before their time is up on the secluded island, the things they hide will be flushed out into the open. Connections and deceptions will rise up and be revealed.
Under the employment of an elusive Mr C, Kate Cartwright and Mr Donovan take their places as guests on the island with the strict orders of keeping Lord Highmount safe and hunting down the secrets which could prove helpful in the war efforts. But Donovan is not all he seems and Kate’s particular talent could put her in risky situations.
As a storm brews and sets in over Blackwater Abbey, things much murkier than ghosts will come to the fore.
There are so many aspects to love about this book. W. C. Ryan submerges the reader in a beautifully layered ghost story which will have you peeking into the dark corners of your own house, waiting for a figure to emerge. Nearly from the first page, ghosts inhabit the pages. Who is the man standing solemnly down by the dock? Who are the two girls curiously watching from the centre of the bedroom? Who are the men and women from different eras observing silently from the corners of the library? It is chilling stuff. If you’re not one for ghost stories this might not be for you but oh my goodness if you are, this is the perfect read for this time of year, what with Halloween fast approaching.
All the characters are in some form suffering with grief and loss. The author depicts their emotions with startling depth and clarity. The war has split families apart, leaving behind turmoil and destruction. And through the séances, Lord Highmount and Kate’s own parents yearn to hear the voices of their children.
A House of Ghosts is pure perfection. It chills, it thrills, it keeps the reader hooked into the story with suspense and surprises all the way through. Sparkling ingenuity, fiendishly clever plot and exquisite characterisation, it has all the hallmarks of an unforgettable book. I really loved it as you can probably tell. Brilliant!
Clever. Atmospheric. Chilling.
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The hardback edition is utterly exquisite and it has a very snazzy map! Here are a few pictures!!
About W.C. Ryan
Huge thanks to Clare and Bonnier Zaffre for my review copy!