THEN IT IS! RUN!
Freya, our protagonist, is a willfully clueless horror heroine. Were The Whispering House a movie, we would all be shouting at her every time she was on screen. Don’t open that door! Don’t drink that tea! Don’t go up those stairs! Don’t look behind you! Don’t move in to the crumbling manor house that is somehow connected to your sister’s suicide days after meeting the charming yet off-putting man of the house! Just…DON’T!
A blurb on the cover of my ARC states that this book will keep the reader up at night…well, boo to you blurb, because I read it in one sitting! I couldn’t spend the night fretting and jumping at every creak and moan of my own old house because I ripped through this book and slammed hard into the mostly-satisfying ending. Take that, suspense! Not that this book is not suspenseful- it was just too compelling to ever put down. I needed to know how Freya was going to dig herself out of the black hole of Byrne Hall.
Like many modern gothic horror entries, most of the “gothic” comes from the atmosphere: a manor home in poor repair, brooding cliffside walks, unstable artists- the whole shebang. Byrne Hall is a crumbling home inhabited by a crumbling family. Eyes in cobwebbed portraits seem to follow. The walls whisper. The gate is wrought iron. The statues are missing heads. The horror, though, is far more insidious but also much more real.
The horror of The Whispering House is the horror of domestic abuse. This may be a difficult read for those who have experienced abuse themselves, or have lost others the powerful undertow of those who abuse. The early signs bleed through the page far before any actual blood starts flowing. As a reader I felt both helpless and enraged. I had to rip through this book as I had to see if Freya was going to continue to keep falling.
There’s nothing new about this story- being that is both a gothic homage and a portrait of endlessly repeating patterns of domestic abuse- but it’s a competent little thriller. It could have used a bit more breathing room to expand on some forced character connections, and some bits were almost too predictable, but if you’re looking for a spooky way to kill a Sunday then The Whispering House may be the book for you.
I received this ARC from the Tin House in exchange for a fair and honest review