This is an odd one. It’s not a standard novel as it’s written in a very different style, a combination of a diary, descriptions of videos, a dream diary and the filled in notes of a mute. This makes it a little more difficult to read than most books, but is well worth the effort. I wasn’t initially taken with this approach, but it grew on me to the point where I sat down one night determined to finish no matter what. I failed, but I did finish it the following night.
In a word: enthralling.
A man has died. He jumped out of a window into an empty swimming pool, ending his life with a loud crack. He had no relatives, as far as he or anyone else knew, but there was a second cousin once removed who was discovered, so he, known only by the letter A, and his mute companion Niamh came to the house.
And that’s where the dreams began. ‘A’ slept almost soundly, but had strange dreams each night, all of which he recorded in his dream diary. Deaths, mutilations and other strange events that left him disturbed and on the point of throwing himself out of the window.
His companion has none of this. She is, however, a mute who communicates via writing things down and showing them to others. She later fills in the gaps she left on the paper with the answers, many pages of which fill out this book.
The house is an enigma. It’s old, creaky and has hidden rooms, some so well hidden that, even with all the time the two of them have on their hands, it takes some months to find.
What they do discover early on is that the owner of the house, and his late father, were members of an organisation that travelled the world in search of the odd things. And they were very odd. Each year there were twelve items that they went looking for, travelling round the globe with the flimsiest of evidence to see people who may no longer be alive.
I won’t spoil the story by giving you any more detail, but those who like mystery, suspense, and horror will enjoy this aspect of the book immensely.
Early on there is a break in which leaves them worried for their safety, but nothing appears to have been stolen by the crook, even though they managed to open a safe. Did they interrupt him, or were the contents not interesting? Another aspect that is curious and helps lead to a solution much later on.
Then there are the letters and the riddles to contend with which are left in the writing desk, not forgetting the annual get together over the winter solstice for twelve people, the members of a society of which the previous owner of the house was the chairman.
All in all, this a spooky tale, bounded in by mental horror with a enough suspense to keep you going over the entire length of the novel and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s well paced, well thought out and as tense as any I’ve ever read. The horror is bubbling just beneath the surface, but it’s the horror of the mind not of monsters, what’s unsaid not what’s revealed.
The ending is more than satisfying and has a little twist in the final chapter that caught me off guard.
In short, read it… right to the last page.