Although I’m supposed to be avoiding blog tours this year in order to reduce my mountainous TBR, when Tracy Fenton got in touch about W.C. Ryan’s latest book A House of Ghosts, I snapped up the opportunity to participate because I know what a fabulous writer William Ryan is. I reviewed his novel The Constant Soldier here and it was one of my books of the year in 2016. I’m thrilled to share my review of A House of Ghosts today.
A House of Ghosts is published by Zaffre and is available for purchase in all the usual places including here.
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 . . .
An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read this winter.
My Review of A House of Ghosts
A weekend house party will have surprising consequences for all participants!
A House of Ghosts is a delicious read. I loved every moment of immersing myself in this wonderfully atmospheric, ghostly tale of espionage, betrayal and, quite surprisingly, romance.
What W. C Ryan has managed to do in A House of Ghosts is to write with complete authenticity for the era, especially through the direct speech, within the traditional unifying parameters of time, place and action and yet craft a narrative that is completely enthralling to a modern reader. I thought this skill was astounding. I loved the manner with which humour provides dramatic relief and the way W.C. Ryan presents the most unusual elements with an almost casual tone so that they are believable to even the most sceptical reader. Kate’s private thoughts in particular add an extra dimension that is so satisfying. The themes explored such as grief, spiritualism, patriotism, PTSD and revenge mean that there is something for every reader here. The short chapters make the book race along and each has an ending that simply refuses to allow the reader to stop. So many surprises await discovery that it’s exciting and surprising too.
The setting is just perfect for the narrative, especially when coupled with the pathetic fallacy of the weather so that much of the novel feels quite visual. I think A House of Ghosts would make the most amazing film. Blackwater Abbey’s passages and cellars, the lighthouse and the storm all create a creepiness that draws on readers’ knowledge of other traditions to intensify the mystery of the story.
In amongst the fast pace and captivating setting are vivid and compelling characters. Kate’s feistiness is so engaging and I can’t wait to read more about her and Donovan in any future books. With A House of Ghosts I truly felt as if I were watching the people first hand and observing them rather than reading about them.
I found W.C. Ryan’s A House of Ghosts thoroughly entertaining and engaging as well as elegantly written. I thought it was brilliant and cannot recommend it highly enough.
About W.C. Ryan
William Ryan is the Irish author of five novels, including the Captain Korolev series set in 1930s Moscow. They have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Irish Fiction Award, the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, the Endeavour Historical Gold Crown and the Crime Writer Association’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers. His latest novel, A House of Ghosts, set in 1917, has been described as ‘an atmospheric, hugely entertaining mystery that offers all the pleasures of a classic ghost story – with an appealing dash of romance’.
William lives in London with his wife and son and is a licensed mudlarker and keen cyclist. Not both at the same time.