Really thrilled and honoured to be on this blog tour for House Of Spines.
A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
My thoughts and review
Michael Malone is such a versatile author. Each of his books is so very different from the others. There isn’t anything formulaic about his writing and he doesn’t use the same characters twice. Hence the subject matter and turn of events within this book were entirely unexpected.
A gothic, cold shiver inducing ghosty tale, murder mystery, psychological thriller, contemporary and historical drama all rolled into one book and slowly unravelled with tantalising glimpses from one to the other.
Ranald McGhie, the protagonist, is a writer of limited success who inherits a big old Victorian mansion Newton Hall with a large library from an eccentric old uncle he’s never met, but has been keeping an eye on him throughout his life. There isn’t any money but the upkeep of the house is paid for and maintained by two elderly servant retainers who are kept on to look after it.
Initially, given the description of the house and library that he slowly explores, I wanted to fall inside the book and live in it. I love both old houses and libraries and how intriguing it all sounded. Discovering once forgotten rooms with secrets and old journals and letters. Family history mysteries and intrigues. Yes please! A history loving bookworm’s paradise.
All is not as it seems though as there are strange occurrences, an apparent haunting and very scary events, although are these real or the result of Ranald, a bi-polar sufferer, not continuing to take his medication?
Ranald has a difficult past in which his parents both committed suicide and he was the one to find them. Haunted by past and present events he attempts to find some normality and routine in his now strange and far from normal life.
Lurking in the background are his two unscrupulous cousins who are trying to persuade him to sell the house to developers to take a cut of the shares.
Apart from this being a very good and intriguing read, it’s a fine study by the author into the mind of someone with mental health issues whose health slowly deteriorates when faced with a complex set of problems and mysteries and manipulations from the living and those who are deceased.
The library is fully appreciated by Ranald throughout the book and he continued to find solace from the books he reads despite his unraveling state of mind. I found this aspect a very touching but insightful observation by the author into the mind of someone suffering from mental health issues.
A beguiling and engrossing read that kept me bewitched until the very end.
About The Author
Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.
He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.
BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.
He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com and his blog, May Contain Nuts can be found at http://mickmal1.blogspot.com/
He can be found on twitter –