Book Review: Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler

21412133Title: Nyctophobia

Author: Christopher Fowler

Genre: Mystery, Horror

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

An original thriller from bestselling author Christopher Fowler that reinventing the haunted house story.

There are two things you need to know about haunted houses. One, there’s never been an actual authenticated haunted house. Two, it’s not the house that’s haunted, but the person.

Callie is a young architectural student who marries Mateo, a wine importer, and moves to a grand old house in Southern Spain. Hyperion House is flooded with light, it also has a mute gardener, a sinister housekeeper and a sealed, dark servants’ quarters that nobody has the keys for. And although initially happy, and taking care of Mateo’s daughter, Callie can’t help being drawn to the dark empty rooms at the back of the house, and becomes convinced that someone is living in there.

Uncovering the house’s history, she discovers the shocking truth. As Callie’s fear of the darkness returns, she comes to understand the true nature of evil.

Nyctophobia is the best horror book I’ve read in 2014, and I doubt I’ll find a better book any time soon. The writing was exquisite, rich in detail, atmospheric and haunting. The book started out slow, and I expected to find a rather standard haunted house story, but this is completely different, and utterly, utterfly terrifying.

I had nightmares about this book last night, and I don’t think they’ll be the first. I don’t mind nightmares though, especially not when the cause is a book as amazing as this one.

In Nyctophobia, Callie has had a troubling childhood. Anorexia, trying to commit suicide, a controlling mother…When she meets Mateo, it feels like she’s finally getting her life back together. He’s a wine importer, originally from Spain, and years older than her. But to Callie it doesn’t matter – she’s in love, and Mateo is the best thing that ever happened to her. The two of them get married, and Mateo buys a grand old house in Southern Spain, named Hyperion House.

The house is strange, and an architectural miracle, which is great for Callie. She studied architecture, and wants to write a book about the house. The front part of the house is always bathing in light, and ideal place for a person with nyctophobia – fear for the dark. But the back part of the house, the servant’s quarter, are always in the dark, with a mountain looming over them.

As Callie and her family move into the house, she wants to investigate all the rooms, including the ones in the dark. However, the rooms are locked, the keys supposedly lost. The old housekeeper won’t share any secrets about the house, even though Callie feels she’s keeping quite a few. But then Callie starts hearing strange noises from the darkened rooms, shuffling, footsteps, furniture moving, whispers.

What is going on in her new house? How is it connected to the previous owners? Can she protect the people she loves?

I know it may sound cliché, but one it’s revealed what’s going on…well, I was shocked enough to nearly drop out of my chair, and then I was so terrified I had to glance behind my shoulder every now and then. There is no blood and gore, but the horror slowly creeps up on you, until it soaks into your skin and doesn’t let you go.

Amazing. Horrific. Terrifying. The best writing I’ve read in ages. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me, but I can do nothing but recommend it.

Comments

  1. Great recommendation! I couldn’t put this book down. I figured out the twist about 1/3 of the way in but I had to know if I was right. Thanks for another excellent read! 🙂

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