House of Spines by Michael J Malone #BlogTour @OrendaBooks 

I’m delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for House of Spines by Michael J Malone today and many thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for inviting me and providing my review copy of the book.

Book blurb…

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

My review…

Having read and loved A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone (you can read my review of that book HERE ) I was intrigued by the blurb of his latest book, House of Spines, as it had a very different vibe about it. I do have a soft spot for a gothic chiller though so I was interested to see what sort of spin this author would apply to the genre. And thankfully I absolutely loved it!

When Ranald McGhie inherits a substantial property from a great uncle he didn’t know he had, it is the start of a new life for him. Moving out of his flat and into the magnificent Newton Hall should have been a dream come true for writer Ran with its magnificent library and books piled up around every corner-a book lovers heaven! But within days he is experiencing visions of a dark haired woman. Are these apparitions real or a side effect of coming off his medication? Ran has mental health problems that seem exacerbated by his move but will investigating his family’s darkest secrets cause Ran to lose hold of the single thread of sanity that he is hanging on to?

The first thing I did when I finished reading was to message a fellow bookworm to ask if she had read it too so we could discuss. I was desperate to talk to someone about how I felt about it! The story itself is a darkly atmospheric “House of Horror” thriller where the reader is unsure whether what is happening to Ran is real or an effect of his illness. It brought to mind films such as The Others, The Innocents or The Haunting where a house also plays as big a part in the drama as the characters themselves do. I was wound up tight as a spring from the very first page, full of a sick apprehension of what was unravelling before my eyes.

As with A Suitable Lie, I was blown away by how strongly I reacted to the narrative. Fear, frustration and anger all blended together to make me feel scared for Ran as, no matter what the truth was, he was a lost soul needing to belong to somebody …..or something. Michael J Malone just writes the most beautifully seductive prose that gives me goosebumps no matter what the subject matter. His poetic narrative mesmerized me to the extent that I felt like I had suddenly awoken from a dream (or was it a nightmare?!) when finished. In anyone else’s hands this story could have gone down a much more cliched route so it just goes to prove what a master storyteller this author is that he kept his tale believable throughout. Very disturbing at times but highly recommended by me!

House of Spines is published by Orenda and is available to purchase now from Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who 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. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing ScotlandPoetry 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. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller


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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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