Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for the terrifying psychological thriller House Of Spines by the very awesome Michael J Malone. It’s published by the superb Orenda Books and the good news is you can actually by a kindle copy right this minute or you can pre-order the book which is published on the 15th September 2017, links included further down this post.
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…
A house with a troubled past
Oh my I really struggled to write a review for this book why? Because I’m not sure anything I write will truly reflect what a fabulous and enthralling read House Of Spines turned out to be. Ever since I read A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone I’ve been eagerly awaiting for his next offering. Firstly I have to mention what a versatile and gifted writer Michael J Malone is, I’m amazed that he’s gone from writing about domestic abuse to the eloquently and beautifully written House Of Spines.
One of my favourite things when I’m reading a book are an author’s description of a setting, and the author describes Newton Hall with a great deal of passion and imagination. Newton Hall is deceiving, a beautiful home full of wealth and splendour, but it also a house that feels claustrophobic, chilling and terrifying, it’s a house shrouded in mystery and secrets. The author’s descriptions give the reader an overwhelming sense of unease and trepidation, one that grows stronger as the novel progresses.
When Ran inherits Newton Hall, a vast and elegant mansion filled with books, it seems all his troubles are over, but little does he realise they are just beginning. From the moment Ran walks through the doors of his new home he senses a chilling presence, a presence that will soon consume his every waking moment, even sleep will give him no relief. What follows is a disquieting tale that has so many themes running through it, lust, betrayal, lies and greed.
I do love an unreliable narrator and Ran certainly fits the bill perfectly. As the author weaves his magic and Ran’s mental health issues begin to surface you cant help but wonder how much of what Ran is experiencing is real. Are the ghostly images he see’s part of his escalating illness? or is there something far more sinster hiding in the shadows of his lavish home? This novel oozes with tension and although the pace is slow, each page adds layer about layer of intrigue and malice. I really wasn’t sure where this story was heading, but WOW when I reached the climax I sat there open mouthed stunned by this simply mind blowing novel.
I want to say so much about this book, but in doing so I could possibly give away spoilers which is never my attention, but what I will say is the author has written a novel that is both captivating yet horrifying, it’s dark with a constant sense of malevolence bubbling away under the surface, with elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom running through this novel it has a very gothic feel to it, which only adds weight to this very creepy read. House Of Spines is an very original psychological thriller and one I would urge anyone and everyone to read just because it’s such a powerful and beautifully haunting novel.
Print Length: 276 pages
Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (29 Aug. 2017)
Michael Malone 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, maybe.
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. Don’t ask.
BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.
He can be found on twitter – @michaelJmalone1