Arcade Publishing, May 2017
Kindle edition, 224 pages
Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out a Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go.
Ireland is a country haunted by its past. In Billy O'Callaghan's hands, its terrible beauty becomes a force of inescapable horror that reaches far back in time, before the Famine, before Christianity, to a pagan place where nature and superstition are bound in an endless knot.My Thoughts:
This is a wonderfully atmospheric and eerie thriller, told in first person by art agent Michael Simmons who befriends Maggie, the young artist at the center of the spooky goings-on. Put in hospital by her latest lover, Maggie turns to Michael for help while she's healing. He provides a spare room and emotional support. And when Maggie is able to get back into the world again, he visits her one weekend to view the remote cottage in Ireland she's chosen as her new home and inspiration. During the visit Maggie and her guests indulge in a little seemingly harmless play with a Ouija board, unknowingly unleashing the ancient evil that inhabits the house.
Yes, I know that sounds like a pretty standard haunted house tale, and in the hands of a lesser talent it could be trite and even a bit silly. But Billy O'Callaghan does a beautiful job of keeping it fresh and genuinely disturbing. Once I finished reading The Dead House, I actually turned back to the beginning and read parts of it over again! (I never do that.) This was O'Callaghan's debut novel and I'm definitely hoping there'll be more to come.
(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through the NetGalley website in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)
Read in August 2018
Qualifies for the following challenges: European Challenge, Monthly Key Word Challenge .