Cover Image: House of Spines

House of Spines

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Member Reviews

Loved the grand, spooky gothic mansion with hidden secrets in the walls and the ghostly things going one here, however, there just wasn't enough tension to the story to keep me interested and engaged in the story.
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A Gothic ghost story full of chills and thrills and books!

This was a very atmospheric read that sent chills down my spine more than once... A big rambling house full of history and secrets.... A house that felt so alive that you could feel it breathing.... I am seriously getting the chills just writing this review, what a creepy story this was!

Ran inherits this rambling  estate from an uncle he never knew he had... the one condition of the inheritance, he must keep the house’s library intact... Ran is a writer so this is perfect, the perfect writing retreat, or so he thinks.... soon after arriving Ran finds himself on an elevator with a mirror...  and the reflection in the mirror? A woman? But is this real or is this a figment of his imagination?

This book will make you wary of things that go bump in the night! Ren is a complex likable character who struggles with bipolar disease.... his mental illness and the fact he does not always take his medication will make you question what is real and what is not... what is up with this library? What is up with this woman? What is up with this elevator? What is up with this house? The house itself was a character in this book, a formidable character at that... this was not the book I was expecting when I picked it up, but it sure did suck me in and gave me all kinds of feels....

An intriguing Gothic supernatural story with a contemporary vibe, recommended!

*** many thanks to Orenda for my copy of this book ***
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This was my second book by Mr. Malone and I was pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoyed this than his previous work. The setting was very vivid and Malone knew exactly how to work in the details for readers to feel like they were part of the experience. The twists that Malone takes is a wild journey for the reader that will leave you shocked and in disbelief.
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Ran McGhie's world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow's oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall.

I really enjoyed the character of Ran, it was a nice change to have a good guy be the protagonist.  This was a nice creepy, physiological thriller with a touch of a gothic tale.  To be honest, it didn’t really work for me; it had too much of an ick factor for me with some of the situations with other characters.  It was slow, but not that good slow burn, just well, slow.  But, all that being said I would recommend this book to lovers of this genre.  

Thank you NetGalley, Orenda books and the author for a free advanced copy.
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3.5 stars! 
I have weird [read: mixed] feelings about horror. Not just books, but movies and TV shows, too. Some aspects of horror I love, like all of Stephen King’s works. I have no problem with horror in literature. I’m also okay with TV shows that incorporate horror elements. But certain movies I can’t watch. Like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Saw, and so on. I’m not big on gore or things that seem just a tad too realistic.  Like home invasion or creepiness in the house (aka things in the walls, sounds from the attic, and other “paranormal” things), but then other times I don’t mind the more “mystery” type of horror. So when I read the synopsis for “House of Spines,” it sounded like an interesting, chilling, creepy story about mental illness and ghosts.

Then I discovered that the story takes place in Scotland. This might be the first book I’ve ever read that has a setting in that country. The language is telling – “wee” for example – and just the way people talk to one another. “Cuppa” made me smile because it’s just so…quaint. I mean, it might not qualify as “diverse” in the general sense, but the story’s not taking place in the US or using normal American English, so I’d like to count it as diversified.

Needless to say, with the language and setting and plot, I was very interested. Most of the story takes place in Newton Hall, the manor Ran inherits after the death of his great-uncle, whom he didn’t even know existed. 
[Full review on my blog!]
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House of Spines, Michael J. Malone, release date 1 April, 2018, 276 pages, Orenda Books

House of Spines is an absolute delight: a horror cum bibliophilia tale that is (honest!) nearly impossible to put down. Ran has inherited his great-uncle’s book-filled mansion. That mansion, however, is filled with more than books—there’s a haunted lift, not-quite-identical pieces of his own writing that he clearly didn’t write, an unusual staff of two who live on the grounds, and relatives who thought they’d be inheriting the house and have development plans for the property.

I’m not a big reader of horror fiction. That’s partly because I’m ambivalent about being frightened (especially right before bedtime when I do my reading) and because the genre so often emphasizes gore over real plot and character development. If you’re like me, do take a chance on House of Spines; I can assure you that you’ll find it a satisfying read with plenty of plot and interesting, unpredictable characters. If you already like horror fiction, let me just say that you are going to love this title. Twists. Turns. Ghosts. Murders. A sprawling mansion that seems to have endless unexplored rooms.

Star Rating (out of five): ****
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Do you enjoy ghost or haunted house stories?  This book has both.  It is so good with a shock constantly provided for your enjoyment.  You will not regret starting this book.  
The main character inherits a new mansion and a new family.  In the mansion he has a grand library and a pool to exercise daily in.   What more could he want?
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House of Spines by Michael J Malone

General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers

Ranald McGhie Or Ran, grew up with a unstable mother and strict father. At 18, his parents committed suicide leaving him penniless and without kin, that is until an unknown rich great-uncle on his mother's side left him a vast house as an inheritance.  An inheritance that came with stipulations. Ran, following in his mother's footsteps and already at odds with his own psychosis, becomes even more unhinged by the secrets the house holds. Secrets or ghosts? 

This story was excellent! All the facets of a great mystery - suspense, foreboding, intrigue, paranoia. As the suspense built and the story unwound, it just got more and more enthralling. The house had a creepy, ominous feel that left one I'll at ease and at times, chilled to the bone. I left such an impression on me, I even dreamt about it.  A page turner to the very end! I rate this novel 5 stars.

Thank you NetGalley, Trafalgar Square Publishing and Orenda Book for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.

Reviewed: March 10, 2018. Novel Publish Date:  April 1, 2018.
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This just didn't capture my imagination. I didn't finish it.
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The word "atmospheric" doesn't begin to describe this excellent novel. The house... the house is simply so real, it's impossible not to picture it in your mind as you follow Ranald through the rooms and gardens of Newton Hall. I would probably put up with a ghost if I got to live in such a place - and don't get me started about the library! Ronald inherited the mansion from a relative he never knew he had. He owns the house and his mission is to protect and read the books. He doesn't get any spending money though, so he's not suddenly a millionaire and he still has to work.  Also, the house seems too big, which makes him feel lonely and worsens the symptoms of his bipolar disorder. Once creepy stuff starts happening, it is hard to tell whether Ran is hallucinating or if Newton Hall is really haunted. The plot builds up the tension slowly, and there are some nice twists. The language is beautiful, which is not surprising seeing how the author is a poet. But it's mostly the chills that the story gave me which made me enjoy it so much. That, and the house. Very solid.
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House of Spines had well intentions of being a spooky thriller. I can see where it could get creepy and where the twists could really get to you, but I just didn't get it. I had high hopes for this one, but I just didn't feel the creep factor and was left feeling disappointed. I can fully understand where other people loved this, and I think this would be a great read for a wide range of people.
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Thank you Netgalley and Orenda Books for the eARC.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, wow, what a great read!
Ranald McGhie inherits his great-uncle Fitzpatrick's mansion, Newton Hall, including the huge library it contains, which the will states must remain as is.
Ran is a struggling writer, a sensitive soul with mental issues.  Upon moving into his new home he explores every inch, especially the library. The descriptions are vivid; you can see, feel and smell the interior as Ran gets familiar with his surroundings.  Therefore, when he finds an old lift with a mirror inside, looks into the mirror and sees the face of a woman staring back at him, my heart leapt into my throat...what a shock!  
Because of his unstable mental state, you don't know whether the feeing of impending doom the spooky mysterious happenings evoke are real or just in Ram's poor mind.
The book explores mental health sensitively. That, with the mix of the gothic atmosphere, mystery as well as the delicious shivers of uneasiness, makes for a highly addictive read.  I had read Michael J. Malone's A Suitable Lie (great book!) and am impressed with the totally different direction he took with House of Spines.  He's definitely an author I will follow faithfully - knowing he will never disappoint.
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You’re thinking vertebrae, maybe? But it’s book spines, which makes it all the more interesting. Yes, this is one of those stories where an aimless young man inherits an estate from a relative he didn’t even know existed only to find out the place is haunted. Why doesn’t anyone just leave someone a nice mansion with a spectacular library and no clauses and conditions? Probably because it wouldn’t make for a very interesting story.  Malone doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, but he does this particular subgenre proud enough, owning mostly to strong writing and character development. Utilizing a mental disorder to murky up the waters is a nice trick, it adds an ambiguity to the ghost apparitions, thus going a long way to enhance the novel. The readers are relying on a somewhat unreliable (bipolar) narrator. Plus even when the facts are finally revealed, there’s still a question of how it’ll be handled. This is essentially a modern gothic in tone and atmosphere with a few surprises for that extra suspense.  If you’re into that sort of thing, check it out. First time reading the author for me (never would have guessed he was a poet based on this either), but apparently he’s pretty accomplished, though the supernatural aspect here might be a new venture for him. Quite compelling one at that too, made for an enjoyable read for a rainy day. Thanks Netgalley.
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Ran McGhie is a down on his luck poet that suffers from bi-polar disorder. He's just barely getting by in life when a lawyer reaches out to him to tell him that his great uncle Alexander Fitzpatrick has not only left him his family mansion, Newton Hall, but also the wondrous library inside. His only instructions is that Ran can never ever sell the mansion. Nor can he remove any of the books from the property. Ran, in shock, can't believe his luck. He never even knew about this family and now everything is being left to him? Ran decides to take his great uncle's offer and moves into Newton Hall. This is where strange things begin to occur. This book will have you constantly wondering if what you're reading is actually happening or is it all in Ran's head, a symptom of his mental illness. 

This truly is a gothic ghost story for book lovers. I absolutely adored Ran and it was refreshing to read about a likable guy. I tend to read a lot of psych thrillers where everyone is unlikable so this was a bit of fresh air for me. It's slower in pace but that only adds to the rich atmosphere that Mr. Malone created. I enjoyed every minute of this. I also thought the ending was perfect. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Ran McGhie has led a tormented life, suffering from mental illness. When he inherits a huge old mansion in Scotland, he believes he might have a chance to start over. After all the Hall is home to one of the largest private libraries Ran has ever seen, and as a poet, the whole thing seems somehow fated. It’s not until Ran begins strolling the endless and echoing halls of the mansions, that he begins to see and hear things that may not be there, that should not be there, that he begins to lose the little grasp on reality that he had. Filled with creepy old elevators and haunted mirrors, this is a Gothic novel perfect to curl up with on a cold winters night
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