Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler

Standalone Book - No Series
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An original thriller from bestselling author Christopher Fowler that reinvents the haunted house story.

There are two things you need to know about haunted houses. One, there's never been an actual authenticated haunted house. Two, it's not the house that's haunted, but the person.

Callie is a young architectural student who marries Mateo, a wine importer, and moves to a grand old house in Southern Spain. Hyperion House is flooded with light, it also has a mute gardener, a sinister housekeeper and a sealed, dark servants' quarters that nobody has the keys for. And although initially happy, and taking care of Mateo's daughter, Callie can't help being drawn to the dark empty rooms at the back of the house, and becomes convinced that someone is living in there.

Uncovering the house's history, she discovers the shocking truth. As Callie's fear of the darkness returns, she comes to understand the true nature of evil.

I wasn't sure if this would get a four star, or a three star, or perhaps a 3.5..... but then the last page left me with a completely baffling, open, ambiguous ending - which I personally loathe. If I take the time to read a book, spell out the ending, don't leave me always wondering. I hate those sorts of endings. I like twists, I like intelligent endings, I like psychological endings, but I despise open-ended finales that don't wrap up what I need to know and leave me on unstable footing.

That said, what a whopper of a story. Slower paced Gothic oozing atmosphere left and right. A small, Spanish town with quirky townsfolk, close-lipped servants, suspicious shadows, legends and lore, history in a unique house. To say it's simply a haunted house tale does not end up being true or serving the story justice. If only I could figure out what the story actually IS, then I'd be a happier camper.

With the explanation given before Callie freaks out a chapter or so before the last page, that doesn't fully make sense either. It is not historical times where children cannot fend for themselves or seek their own help, after all, and the house was not completely uninhabited. On the other hand, this ties up a disappearance or two. To make things worse, was what she wanted there in the end or not?? Knowing happiness makes all the difference in every world, reader's fantasy or non.

This book plays with your mind. Callie is reasonable as a main character and not unlikable, but the servants make me want to drop-kick them out of the house some of the time. Mateo had faults, but I really dug the man. My heart felt sorrow at times. The weighed down sadness with favorite characters accompanied by the heavy direction of the story created a disheartening tale.

Fowler writes well and I look forward to reading more of his work, yet I close this one up with a mixed, bittersweet impression.

If you like ghost tales, gothic vibes, you may want to try it on for size - but be warned that the longer the navigation the trickier the labyrinth grows.

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1 comment:

Mechanical Contractors New Jersey said...

This was great to read, thank you