Book Review: The Unquiet House by Alison Littlewood

20989321Title: The Unquiet House

Author: Alison Littlewood

Genre: Horror, Supernatural Horror, Paranormal Mystery

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Mire House is dreary, dark, cold and infested with midges. But when Emma Dean inherits it from a distant relation, she immediately feels a sense of belonging.

It isn’t long before Charlie Mitchell, grandson of the original owner, appears claiming that he wants to seek out his family. But Emma suspects he’s more interested in the house than his long-lost relations.

And when she starts seeing ghostly figures, Emma begins to wonder: is Charlie trying to scare her away, or are there darker secrets lurking in the corners of Mire House?

The Unquiet House is the best horror book I’ve read so far this year. That could be, in part, because it’s a ghost story, and I’m a huge fan of ghost stories. But still, it highly outranks the other ghost stories I read this year, like “The Woman in Black: Angel of Death” and “The Everlasting”.

But back to The Unquiet House. Emma has inherited the house from a long-lost relative she never even heard of. The strange thing? He had a grandson, who he could’ve given the house to just as easily, but instead, he chose to give it to Emma. Either way, after her parents’ death a few years ago, Emma is looking for something new, a fresh start. She went to Mire House – the house she inherited – first with the intention of taking a look at it before she’d put it on the market. But the moment she steps inside the house, it feels like coming home. She knows exactly what she wants the house to look like. And she knows she wants to live in it.

It doesn’t take long before Charlie Mitchell, the grandson who we spoke about earlier, ends up on Emma’s doorstep. Charlie wants to get to know her, and Emma welcomes the company. But in the middle of the night she wakes up to see a strange man in her bedroom – a hunched-over figure of an old man wearing the suit she found in the closet. Charlie is convinced it’s a ghost, but Emma isn’t sure whether it’s a ghost, or simply her imagination.

The longer Emma stays in Mire House, the more she grows convinced it’s haunted. And why does Charlie stay for so long? Is he somehow involved, maybe trying to get her to leave the house, so he could have it instead? But when the evidence of something supernatural becomes more and more apparent, Charlie is the only one Emma can turn to for help. And when a century-old ghost who wishes to destroy the happiness of anyone who inhabits the house, comes out to play, things get truly dangerous.

In a way, the story reminded me of “The Woman in Black”. The host here is  somewhat similar to the ghost in “The Woman in Black”, and equally sinister. However, whereas “The Woman in Black” offers a straightforward story, and it’s quite apparent who is who, and who is connected to whom in what way, we see none of those things here. The story is complicated, and involves many generations, all of which get discussed here as we take a trip back to the past in the second part of the book. While we may despise the evil spirit, we also feel sorry for her. Mire House is delightfully creepy, and the suit appearing and disappearing from the closet managed to terrify me. It’s something so simple, yet so terrifying.

The writing is excellent. The prose is quite poetic at times, but never causes the narrative to derail, or to slow down. The plot, while familiar, offered enough fresh and original elements to keep me entertained. The ghost story itself may be reminiscent of a dozen other ghost stories (the haunted house trope has been used so many times it”s hard to put anything original in it) but the history of the house offered enough originality to make up for that. And then there’s also the surprise toward the ending, which I hadn’t seen coming until a few pages before, so great work on that.

If you love ghost stories, then check out The Unquiet House. I read as many ghost stories as I can, and I found this one of the best ghost stories I’ve ever read, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well.


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