One by One by D.W. Gillespie

Today it is my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the creepy and suspenseful One by One by D.W. Gillespie. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to publisher Flame Tree Press for providing an advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley

About the Book

The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child s drawing of a family just like hers.

Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child s drawing with a dark black X. It s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim.

Available from: Amazon

My Thoughts

If you like stories with an edge, with a creepy house and a dark history, then this may well be the book for you. This is the story of Alice and her family who are planning to start a new chapter in their lives as they move into a new home. Her father, Frank, is excited, her mother, Debra, and brother, Dean, much less so. For Alice, there is just something about the house, something that she can’t quite put her finger on that both thrills her and fills her a sense of fear. And, as the story progresses, it appears she was right to be afraid as the house nurses a dark past, secrets that Alice is soon to discover, and that could cost the family everything.

From the very start of the book you get that developing sense of foreboding. This is not a restful family home, it is a place mired in tragedy. Behind it’s bizarre, side-facing exterior lies a house that could optimistically be described as a fixer-upper. It screams of a dark history and the author has done a great job in setting it up as a kind of creepy and unsettling place, with a myriad of corridors, dark spaces and unusual features that would put the chills in anyone, never mind an overactive ten year old mind such as Alice’s. You know from the outset that something bad is bound to happen. It has been presented perfectly as one of those houses with the Bates Motel, Amityville kind of vibe. Nothing about the place screams family home, it only screams ‘Don’t turn out the light …’

This is a slow building story and it is not really until the latter part of the book that the really dark stuff begins to happen. The first half is really about establishing the main characters, creating that unbalanced and isolated feeling that is essential to driving the chills through the rest of the book. This is done well – the creaking floorboards, the heavy weather front, the fissures that start opening up in the family unit. The tension creeps into the relationships and the story, and as dark and twisted things start to happen, the pace also starts to pick up.

This story is told in third person, largely through the eyes of a ten year old child – Alice. She is a great little character, a child who perhaps sees and understands things far more than someone her age should. I really liked the character, her inquisitive nature, and her wide eyed wonder. There is something about her though, and I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, that makes her appear much older than a ten year old. More mature. Sometimes the way she speaks and acts does not appear in keeping with someone hovering on the precipice between birthday that involve large inflatables and makeover sessions. She certainly has to find the strength within herself towards the end as she becomes the central focus of the action.

Although this is billed as horror, for me it was somewhere between that and a mystery or suspense with the potential undertones of the supernatural. You are never sure whether it is a family madness, possession or something otherworldly that is happening within the walls of that house. It takes a lot to scare me though, and I did feel my pulse pick up a little towards the end when the real threat becomes apparent. That said, whilst this may not be a full on scare-fest, it does contain dark themes, none explored in a graphic way, but with enough information shared to leave the reader in no doubt about what happened to one the house’s former occupants, Mary.

An entertaining, chilling and intriguing read that held my attention right to the last page.

About the Author

A fan of all things dark and horrific, D.W. Gillespie has been writing horror, sci-fi, and fantasy for longer than he would like to admit. After years of daydreaming, he started taking it seriously in college after a creative writing class helped spark his motivation. After winning a local writing award, he realized that his path forward was clear.

In the years since, he’s been featured in many publications, both online and in print. He’s the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Toy Thief, Still Dark, and Handmade Monsters.

For One by One, Gillespie was influenced by his experience of moving houses often when growing up. One particular house was supposedly haunted (according to previous tenants) and became specially inspirational, and he knew he wanted it to feature in one of his books as a character in the story.

A lifelong native of Middle Tennessee, he still lives there today with his wife and two children.

Author Links: Twitter

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