Welcome to my stop on the House of Spines blog tour; I’ll be sharing my review with you all today. This blog tour spans into October so be sure to check out all the stops.
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…
House of Spines was a totally different novel to what I expected – I was expecting a conventional psychological thriller that followed the usual path but this book certainly was not that! It is a psychological thriller but I felt it had a really heavy, dark, twisted, gothic romance element to it – it was a bit much at times, not in a descriptive detailed way, but at times it felt like I was reading a gothic romance novel as opposed to a psychological thriller. The romantic elements did serve a purpose and played a crucial role in the novel so I can’t be too mad. House of Spines also has elements of the supernatural and these add to the psychological thrills – when the supernatural’s at play, in a huge isolated mansion, you’re going to feel chills. These elements balanced out the romantic elements as although they weren’t my favourite portions of the novel, the supernatural had me listening out for unusual sounds in my own house! I think it’s fair to say, House of Spines crosses genres and can and will be enjoyed by a large reading audience.
I wouldn’t say this is the kind of novel that you have to root for the main protagonist, it’s more your desire to understand the events, both in the present and the past, that keep you turning the pages. In books, I have grown to love to hate the unlikeable characters, and House of Spines has a few of those too. And I appreciate that Malone was able to take all that I thought I knew about a character and flip it on its head!
My favourite part of this novel was the ending – I absolutely loved the way Malone bought everything together. I don’t want any spoilers, so I won’t say anything about what happens but from about 70% onward, I was obsessed with this novel, I couldn’t believe the reveal after reveal that came! This novel is disturbing throughout but wow, the twistedness that came at the end was a brilliant kind of twistedness!
I like that Malone used Ran’s mental state to create this level of uncertainty, throughout you’re never sure if Ran is going to be able to keep it together or lose control completely. This novel rocked the gothic vibe very well, a bit too much of a romantic element but the supernatural element was much appreciated, and as mentioned above – the ending was amazing, in the most twisted and shocking way! If you’re a fan of modern gothic novels, give House of Spines a read.
*My thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of this book*
About the Author:
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.
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