It’s 1923 and at Thistlecrook House, a forbidding home on the Scottish border, the roaring twenties seem not to have arrived. But Simon Christie has – a young man who can’t believe his luck when he gets a job cataloguing the infamous art collection of the Mordrake family. Yet from the moment he gets off the train at the deserted village station he can’t shift a headache and a sense that there’s more to the House and its gruesome selection of pictures.
Simon’s host is glad of his company, but he gets the feeling the house is not so welcoming. As his questions about the Mordrakes grow, he finds answers in surprising places. But someone is not pleased that old secrets are stirring.
As night falls each evening, and a growing sense of unease roils in the shifting shadows around him, Simon must decide what he can trust and ask if he can believe what he sees in the dusk or if his mind is poisoned by what has happened before in this place between lands, between light and dark.
So many theories! So many wrong ideas! The joys of reading with my online book club The Pigeonhole.
I just loved this book, every single spooky, scary moment. Written in a dark and picturesque style with touches of Jane Eyre (‘reader I married him’) and the ambiguity of The Turn of the Screw, The House of Footsteps is both Gothic and horror fiction. Are the house, the grounds and the lake haunted? Is it all a figment of Simon’s imagination brought about by his somewhat nervous disposition? What is real and what is not?
It’s 1923 and young Simon Christie has landed his first job cataloguing the infamous Mordrake art collection at the oddly named Thistlecrook House, situated in a remote part of the Borders between England and Scotland. It’s a strange house and many of the artworks stored in the attic are quite horrific, reminiscent of the doom paintings you can still find in some old churches around Britain. Visions of hell, demons, sinners consumed by fire and being tortured in unimaginable ways. Imagine Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel.
But there is also love and friendship, jealousy and obsession. This book is so up my street. I love a Gothic novel, the more supernatural the better. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because at times, it’s a little overlong, mainly due to Simon’s rambling introspection. 4.5 stars definitely.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.
About the Author
Mathew West grew up in Aberdeenshire (and very briefly New Zealand). After a spell as a music journalist he now lives and works in Edinburgh as a civil servant. A keen horror film buff, his novels are born out of love of classic gothic fiction seen through modern eyes.