The Red House: home to the damaged genius of the late M. H. Mason, master taxidermist and puppeteer, where he lived and created some of his most disturbing works. The building and its treasure trove of antiques is long forgotten, but the time has come for his creations to rise from the darkness. Catherine Howard can’t believe her luck when she’s invited to value the contents of the house. When she first sees the elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals and macabre puppets, she’s both thrilled and terrified. It’s an opportunity to die for. But the Red House has secrets, secrets as dreadful and dark as those from Catherine’s own past. At night the building comes alive with noises and movements: footsteps, and the fleeting glimpses of small shadows on the stairs. And soon the barriers between reality, sanity and nightmare begin to collapse . . .
Adam Neville always delivers with his unsettling novels and his latest, House of Small Shadows, does not disappoint…at all.
The Red House with its isolated setting and its various disturbing inhabitants is pure Gothic with a dash of Victorian grotesque - dark, dense, and filled with malice and memories and worse. The central character has a governess from The Turn of the Screw vulnerability/instability and is very soon out of her depth mentally and emotionally.
Into this claustrophobic mix the author has woven a true English story; a ruined village celebrating an unspeakable ancient tradition, creepy dolls, stuffed animals, whispered warnings from a sinister housekeeper *whimper*
The writing is lyrical…beautiful and the set pieces have a dreamlike weirdness that drips with menace that caused this reader more than a few eye watering moments of fear.
I was truly relieved to finish this novel ...for all the right reasons.