Today I pass the blog back over to Mandie who has read her first ever Michael J Malone book – House of Spines. I know. She really has got a lot of catching up to do. It’s her first but not her last and she’ll be reading more for her Year of Orenda challenge. If you want to know what I thought of the book, you can read my review here. Read on to find out whether Mandie and I agree …
About the Book
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 it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up.
Entering his new-found home, it seems 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…
Ran McGhie has inherited a house from an uncle he didn’t know he had. With his current situation this seems like an amazing stroke of luck, but you know that saying…if something is too good to be true it usually is…well, it kind of applies here. The house is impressive and is full of books which appeals to Ran immensely. What he wasn’t banking on was his newly discovered relatives and the unearthing of family secrets that will have a serious impact on him.
House of Spines is a beautifully chilling story with a distinctive gothic feel to it and I loved it. Ran suffers with a mental illness and until he moves into the house he is managing it well with medication and therapy, so when he decides that he no longer wants to continue on with them you do start to wonder if some of the events that he believes are real are, in fact, just a figment of his imagination. I have to say I was a little bit jealous of Ran. He inherited a house full of books that were there to be read not admired. The only stipulation was that these books could never leave the house. As for the rest of what his inheritance entailed – the manipulative family out for themselves and the ghostly presence – that I could live without.
Michael J. Malone has produced something that will certainly have the reader wondering what is to believed and who can be trusted, but at the heart of it is a story of a family torn apart by past actions and differing versions of the truth that are quite sad and at times distressing to read. For the most part Ran is in the house alone with his own thoughts and you can certainly get the sense of the isolation he feels and understand why he has trouble making sense of what is going on around him, which is a testament to Mr Malone’s writing. The detail was enough to draw me in and keep me turning page after page until I reached the end. Whilst the majority of the events are eventually explained, the ending will certainly leave you wondering and may divide some readers, but for me it just cemented what was a brilliant read. I could ramble on for hours, but I really think you need to discover this book for yourselves.
About 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 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. 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 http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.
Books by Michael J Malone: