Book Review: House of Spines

HOUSE OF SPINES | Michael J. Malone
04.01.2018 | Orenda Books
Rating: 4/5 stars


Ranald McGhie has a tumultuous past with mental health problems stemming from the loss of his parents. He is divorced, living alone, and trying to make ends meet with a less-than-creative writing career. That all changes when he receives notice that he has inherited Newton Hall is the descendant of the wealthy Fitzpatrick family. Ranald never knew his family. His mother always kept them separated because she was shunned from them for her decision to run away and marry his lower class father. Apparently, Great-Uncle Alexander Fitzpatrick has been secretly keeping tabs on Ranald and giving him his house is his chance to make family amends.

He could see bones everywhere. He was living in a house of spines.

Newton Hall seems like just the chance Ranald needs to turn his life around. The sprawling mansion is filled to the brim with books lining every wall. The grounds are peaceful and the town is small. There’s something slightly off about the situation. There’s an abandoned lift that leads to a section of the house that appears to not have been touched for many years. There’s a mirror in the lift that’s home to the reflection of a woman. This woman begins haunting Ranald’s dreams. Is what he’s seeing real or a product of being off his medication?

This wasn’t his imagination. He wasn’t dreaming. The words were there in black and white. Was the house somehow affecting him?

HOUSE OF SPINES is part Gothic ghost story and part atmospheric thriller. Poor Ranald…just when he thought life had served him something to turn his days around, those dreams turn into a reality that is nothing short of confusing. Imagine walking into a family you know nothing about and being gifted a massive estate by your dead Great-Uncle. Other family members aren’t going to be pleased, which is exactly what Ranald runs into with his cousins. On top of family drama, the house you inherited may or may not be haunted by a ghost that is trying to seduce you. Life is simply crazy for Ranald. Malone has laced HOUSE OF SPINES with writing that transcends the reader straight into the quaint town where the story is set while subtly creeping the reader out with the strange events happening around Ranald. You begin to wonder what is real and what is imagined early on with this book and chances are at the end, you might still not be sure. If you’re in the mood for something that will chill you, confuse you, and have you unable to put it down, this is the book for you!

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