Three of my favourite individual books from last year were “spooky house” stories. Two were straight up ghost stories — Spirit by John Inman and Spindrift by Amy Rae Durreson. The third was a different kind of paranormal story, although had a similar spooky feel — Stygian by Santino Hassell.
Each of these three novels has lingered with me long past finishing, and I will definitely be re-reading them, probably in the very near future.
Interestingly and coincidentally (I think?), all three are published by Dreamspinner Press, where they’re available in all formats of e-book, paperback and audio — I’ve included buy links.
Spindrift – Amy Rae Durreson
When lonely artist Siôn Ruston retreats to the seaside village of Rosewick Bay, Yorkshire, to recover from a suicide attempt, he doesn’t expect to encounter any ghosts, let alone the one who appears in his bedroom every morning at dawn. He also doesn’t expect to meet his ghost’s gorgeous, flirty descendant working at the local museum… and the village pub, and as a lifeboat volunteer. But Mattie’s great-great-grandfather isn’t the only specter in Rosewick Bay, and as Siôn and Mattie investigate an ill-fated love affair from a bygone era, they begin a romance of their own, one that will hopefully escape the tragedy Mattie’s ancestor suffered.
But the ghosts aren’t the only ones with secrets, and the things Siôn and Mattie are keeping from each other threaten to tear them apart. And all the while, the dead are biding their time, because the curse of Rosewick Bay has never been broken. If the ghosts are seen on the streets, local tradition foretells a man will drown before the summer’s end.
Seriously, that blurb alone gives me chills of the very best kind. I adore stories set in English villages. I adore everyday people trying to solve mysteries from the past. The characters are distinctive and complex and endearing. The setting is gorgeous. The atmosphere is dark and brooding.
In short, I adore everything about this book. Get it here from Dreamspinner Press.
Spirit – John Inman
The cover caught my attention with this book — I am a complete sucker for two guys and a kid. And a spooky basement.
Right, so this one is about a guy, Jason, who agrees to babysit his four-year-old nephew, Timmy, for four weeks while his single mum has a holiday with her boyfriend. Turns out that there’s a ghost in his house and Timmy’s presence seems to activate it. Then Timmy’s uncle on his estranged father’s side comes to visit…
There’s a lot more light and humour in this book (compared to the dark and brooding Spindrift), but the mystery is no less intense and the romance between Timmy’s uncles is sweet.
It all blends into another fabulous ghost story / murder mystery that I can’t wait to experience again! Get it here from Dreamspinner Press
Stygian – Santino Hassell
I pretty much love everything by Santino Hassell, but for some reason it took me a while to pick this one up. Why, I ask myself. WHY?!
Stygian is the name of an indie rock band that has rented out a formerly grand, now dilapidated, old mansion in a secluded Louisiana forest for six weeks to work on new music. Jeremy is the drummer and has a secret crush on guitarist Kennedy, who doesn’t seem to realise…
The creepy old house, half of which is blocked off (for good reason, it turns out), is a major character in this spooky story. Jeremy, who is also grieving the recent death of his brother, doesn’t seem to connect with the rest of the band. Instead, he starts hanging out with their enigmatic (and eerily beautiful) landlord, Hunter Carroway…
There are many weird goings on in the house and the forest around it, usually involving Hunter Carroway or his sex-crazy sister and one or other of the Stygian band members. Although it’s not a ghost story, there are paranormal elements and another spooky mystery to solve.
It’s beautifully written (as usual) and in such a way that it’s not always obvious what’s going on, or who Jeremy should be falling for. It’s deliciously ambiguous for a romance. Loved it. Get it here from Dreamspinner Press
The first post in the Annual Reading Highlights 2017 series looked at three authors I read (and loved) a lot last year:
And there will be more posts to come. Stay tuned!