House of Spines – Michael J Malone
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 appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that 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…
My thanks to Karen and Anne who allowed me the opportunity to join the House of Spines blog tour
This is the type of review I hate writing – the one where I enjoyed a book so much that I don’t think I can put the rights words together to convey how much I lost myself to this story.
Ran McGhie seems to be the luckiest fellow in the West. He has been left a sizeable property on the outskirts of Glasgow (one of the posh bits of town) and charged with looking after the immense book collection that his great uncle amassed during a long and prosperous life.
It transpires that Ran’s mother had fled the family home many years before and turned her back on her kin. Ran grew up oblivious to his mother’s background but we learn that his (secret) family have not entirely ignored Ran. His great uncle kept an eye on Ran down the years and has come to the conclusion that in a family of odious and self-serving Fitzpatrick’s that Ran McGhie can keep his legacy going. The family solicitor reaches out to Ran and tells him that his crushed wee flat will soon be replaced by the sumptious Newton Hall. He will have a house with a huge number of rooms, a housekeeper and gardener, a private lift, a pool, a gym and most significantly an enormous library but there are conditions attached to the inheritance.
Ran accepts his good fortune and tries to settle in his new home. But something odd seems to happen in Newton Hall and Ran finds his sleep becomes disturbed, he is drawn more than once to a mirror and in the reflections he sees a woman.
What had been a creepy story suddenly ramps it up several notches and I was hooked. A giant mansion house with the promise of a ghost soon gives us a disturbing insight into the dark history of a family where money has been no object and the family members are all too used to getting their own way.
Ran was not the only potential heir to the Fitzgerald estate and it does not take long before “new” family members will make themselves known to Ran – they have their own plans for Newton Hall and are keen to keep Ran onside to help them fulfill their goals. Following Ran through the story I could not help but cheer him on as he learns to stand up for himself in the face of the arrogant elite class. But there was worry too as Ran is out of his depth and fighting more than one battle (no spoilers) things look bleak.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed House of Spines. I love a ghost story, I love a mystery and I love how Michael J Malone delivers such engaging characters. He sure knows how to plot a twisty, pacy tale and he caught me off guard more than once. House of Spines is a belter – you need this in your life.
House of Spines is published by Orenda and available from 15 September 2017 in both paperback and digital format – you can get a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Spines-Michael-J-Malone-ebook/dp/B06Y6LSMBS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8