Cover Image: A House of Ghosts

A House of Ghosts

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The author has managed to combine all the things I love in one go! Really well plotted and a just a fun read with plenty of drama. I made it an NYPL staff pick and I am constantly recommending it.
Was this review helpful?
A House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan is a novel that navigates the separate genres horror, gothic haunted house, mystery, spy thriller and historical romance while creating a tale of its own.

Summary –

“…He picked up the luggage and stood there for a moment. If C had told her nothing, then there might have been a reason for that. On the other hand…

‘I can see you thinking, Mr. Donovan.’

He placed the suitcases back down.

‘Did he show you some plans? They were on his desk.’

‘For the aerial torpedo? Yes.’

‘You have some knowledge of such matters.’

‘I worked in procurement for the War Office for nine months. I wouldn’t say my knowledge is extensive.’

‘Better than mine, I expect. I may need it. The other matter is your with…’ He paused, not quite certain how to continue. ‘That is, I understand you’re able to see things other people can’t.’

Her face had turned quite pale and he had a moment’s regret.

‘The ghost thing?’ he continued…”


It is the winter of 1917 and across Europe the First World War is at it’s most brutal apex. In England, families are seeking answers to the fates of their loved ones. Men dead or missing in battle.

Lord Highmount has arranged a gathering at his estate at Blackwater Abbey, secluded on an island off the Devon Coast. Family and friends will conduct a seance in hopes of contacting their lost loved ones. But there is far more than speaking with the dead happening on the island. For there are secrets and spies and murder to be had. As the storm rages outside, the inhabitants of Blackwater Abbey are cut off from the rest of the world and then the dead begin to gather and the living are being picked off, one by one.

Review –

A House of Ghosts is a tale that suffers from the lethargy of trying to blend far too many genres into one tale. Horror, spy, historical fiction, romance, Gothic and so on and so on. It touches on all of them briefly but just does not do any of them very well.

The setting is cut out of an Agatha Christie novel with a touch of Vincent Price suspense tossed in. The characters are pretty mundane. The aristocratic English, the outsider Irishman, the have and have nots. The entitled rogue fiance and the foreigners who are the spiritualists. These characters are pretty much the same characters we have seen for some time.

If the novel had been written as a ghost story and left out all the spy thriller stuff, it probably would have been good. If it had been written as a WW1, James Bond kind of tale it probably would have been pretty good. But the blending of the two actually muted the strengths of both genres and they seem to co-exist in this novel in a state of quiet desperation.

What I found most disturbing about this tale were the ghosts. They seemed to be relegated to bystanders. Spirits that exist but only seem interested in watching what was happening around them. They could have been cats or dogs for all the input into the story they had. Which seems strange considering the title of the novel.

Overall A House of Ghosts was not bad but not particularly good. If this is a beginning of a series I may give the second tale a chance in hopes that it takes serious leaps forward in story and characters.
Was this review helpful?
Thankyou to NetGalley,  Skyhorse Publishing and the author,  W C Ryan, for the opportunity to read a digital copy of A House of Ghosts in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion. 
I thought this book provided a good read.  The storyline was well thought out and written with intriguing characters.  Certainly gets your imagination going.  I certainly can't wait for more from this author. 
Worth a read.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a good read! It reminded me of an Agatha Christie style mystery with a paranormal twist. I loved Donovan and Kate, they worked well together to discover who was behind the murders and accidents happening on the island. I was a little wary of the paranormal element at first, thinking it would come off as more hokey than anything else but the ghosts were woven so nicely into the story that they ended up enhancing the narrative rather than detracting from it.
Was this review helpful?
2020 started with a great book for me. Where "A House of Ghosts" has a generic name the story contains a lot more than the name suggests. The story is about an old hall where a seance will be held. During WW1 a scary amount of people died under doubtful circumstances and many people tried to contact them. This book is all about that.

The main characters are sent to hall where a seance will be held, they are hand picked by the army for this purpose. Not because of the seance itself but because of the many agenda's the lord of the house has. He is an industrialist who made his fortune in the weapons industry and there are quite a few shady pages in his diary. On top of this the house is swarming with spiritsto spruce things up.

There is a lovely mixture of WW1 detective thriller and horror. The supernatural plays a part in the story but is never the main subject. That is the part I enjoyed most. The way the supernatural stays a sidenote through the entire book enhanced the suspense.

This is one of my favourite books recently.
Was this review helpful?
I liked in this book the suspensful and scary storyline and a lot of characters build in. 
The author is very talented in presenting the storyline to not only grab your attention but also engage in your imagination.
Was this review helpful?
This story has mentions of ghosts and a seance.  That's about as supernatural as it gets. 
The plot centers around talk of war, weapons, and espionage.  Going into it expecting a ghost story, I was really let down.  

There are far too many characters to keep up with, and many of the characters go by multiple names.  It was tiresome to try to keep them straight.  Additionally, major details were repeated over and over. 

What I did like:  
This was a clean mystery with just a hint of romance. 
The setting and characters reminded me of Downton Abbey.
Was this review helpful?
An isolated island, a manor house built from an ancient abbey, and a cast of suspicious characters makes for a perfect read on a dark and stormy night. 

The Highmount family has gathered their closest friends to Blackwater Abbey for a séance to make contact with their sons who have been lost to WW1. But there’s more than meets the eye to this gathering; someone has leaked Lord Highmount’s weapon designs to the Germans, and all of the people invited had an opportunity to do so. Code breaker Kate Cartwright and British spy Donavan are sent to Blackwater Abbey to determine who leaked the documents, but find themselves in the middle of something even more sinister…

Overall I found this to be a satisfying mystery. The clues that were slowly being revealed kept me guessing at the culprit, I enjoyed the blossoming relationship between Kate and Donovan, and the setting of Blackwater Abbey felt like a character in itself. But besides Kate and Donovan, the other characters didn’t feel fully fleshed out. Sometimes it just felt like the boardgame Clue had come to life. There was also this whole paranormal subplot that I wished played a bigger part in the story, but it never felt like it reached its full potential. Despite this, I did have a good time reading this book and I think this would be a great quick read during a winter snowstorm.
Was this review helpful?
A House of Ghosts is a paranormal murder mystery set during WWI. Originally released in 2018, this reformat was released 1st Oct 2019 by Skyhorse on their Arcade Crimewise imprint. It's 371 pages and available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

This atmospheric and very twisty country house (set on an island!) mystery has a large number of disparate threads including espionage, counter-espionage, combat fatigue (PTSD), murder, and a group of spirits betrayed to their deaths and bent on revenge which coalesce into a surprising but satisfying denouement.

The book, though written in 3rd person, follows several of the characters viewpoints in alternating chapters. It's not difficult to keep track of (the chapters are labeled clearly). The dialogue has a definite period vibe, and the different characters' accents are acceptably well done without generally being overpowering or annoying.

I absolutely love golden age country house mysteries and didn't find the plotting or tension too slow. For readers who prefer a faster pace, I can certainly understand how this one might drag a bit.

Well written and with more than a little golden age vibe.

Four stars.
Was this review helpful?
Although I did enjoy this story for the most part, overall I felt like it was just a smidgen to long.  There were parts where it dragged and others where it didn't.  For me it felt like there was just way to much tossed into this story.  I think that some of the aspects of it could have been taken out and put into a book two.  I think this one would be great for people that don't get overwhelmed with different parts of a story that has many moving parts.
Was this review helpful?
Honestly, I was sure I was going to love this book.
I love the setting: WWI Europe. I loved the idea of a ghost story set in a secluded house, isolated on an island during a storm and with a sanse schedule for the night (I mean, how can you not love it?) and a mystery. Everything right up my ally.
I really loved the first chapters of the story. The characters were so relatable. Kate and Donovan appeared to be clever, witty and sympathetic. And I liked that the fantasy element of the book didn’t interfere with the historical setting.
I was sure I was going to love it.

But then, halfway through, the story just fell apart.
The mystery was always unclear to me, and not in an intriguing way. The characters went around without never truly find clues or string them together and so deducing the mystery. The ghost element mingled with the historical setting, but I’m not sure why. Ghosts weren’t essential to the story at all, they seemed to be there just for colour. The ending seemed to be chosen because it was the most unexpected – but to me it was also unlikely. I’m not sure what the mystery was, why those people were killed and what exactly was the plot even now.

I’m so, so disappointed.
It could have been so much better.
Was this review helpful?
A twisting, turning atmospheric mystery. A story which seems to have a bit of everything - not a terrifying tale by any means but more an historical mystery with several threads, almost verging on the gothic. Well written and engrossing. It's an enjoyable read for a cold Winter's night.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed reading this novel! It had a very good pace and the characters are interesting enough to keep you fully engaged into the story. There were plenty of ghosts and twists to keep you guessing until the very end. The big reveal was a bit of a let down for me, I didn't really understand the logic behind it. Overall, it's a very entertaining read.
Was this review helpful?
This was such an amazing read that I couldn’t put it down. It went everywhere with me. To the doctors office, the dentist, the eye doctor. IT WENT ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. I was so sad when it ended that I immediately went and bought more books from this author!
Was this review helpful?
In the winter of 1917 Lord Highmount and his wife invite a selection of friends and acquaintances to their home, Blackwater Abbey, which is located on an island off the Devon coast.  The main objective of the house party is to conduct a séance in order to contact their two sons – both of whom have died in the war.

Among the guests are Kate Cartwright and her parents, two mediums, Kate’s ex-fiancée, and Captain Donovan, who has just returned from Europe.  Each guest seems to have secrets they are trying to hide.  Blackwater Abbey, with a history of ghosts and strange activities, becomes a backdrop to murder and multiple deceptions.

A House of Ghosts is a twisting and suspenseful novel, with a touch of romance.  The mystery is interesting and the characters are varied and complex. I enjoyed the interactions between the captain and Kate.  The historical aspects of the story were also quite interesting and added a great deal to the overall enjoyment of the book.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
Was this review helpful?
This one has a Ghost and Mrs. Muir feel about it with a bit of espionage mixed in. A young woman, new to the role of British intelligence officer, is sent to a gathering on an storm battered island off the coast of England during World War I. Her mother, father, and ex-fiance will be there as well as a second agent. The setting is during the era when spiritualism and attempting to communicate with the dead was a means of healing the loss of so many brothers, husbands and children to the war and this is why the gathering was organized. On the other hand, national security is of grave concern to the British military who are less interested in the ghosts that inhabit the home and more in who on the island is responsible for the theft of military secrets. 

My rating is 5 Stars: Highly recommended!  For reference my version of a 5 star review is “I absolutely loved it! It will stay with me for a long time and/or I would read it again in the future. Highly recommended.”

As a reviewer for NetGalley, I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?
I picked up A House of Ghosts based on the cover - I love a chilling gothic haunted house story - and it did not disappoint. In addition, there is a spy/espionage storyline that was as delightful as it was unexpected. A great read for those dark October nights!
Was this review helpful?
I am not usually a big reader of historical mysteries but I love gothic and this one sounded so intriguing: WW 1, set in an isolated island retreat with a touch of the supernatural.  I highly enjoyed it.  I loved the 2 main characters and if this is the first in a series with them I will definitely read the next one. The only reason I didn’t give it 4 stars is that around the 60% mark it did drag a tiny bit but overall I am glad I read it.  If you enjoy historical, cozy, and/or British mysteries then I think you will like this book.  

** thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the arc I received in an exchange for an honest review**
Was this review helpful?
House of Ghosts sounds like an Agatha Christie plot. As World War I battles a world away, a house party is gathering at a mysterious old house on an English island. The goal is to use mediums to raise the spirits of the owners’ two sons—both dead in the war. Throw in mysteries, lies, secret plans, spies, a storm cutting the island off from the mainland and of course murder and you have a plot reminiscent of the finest golden-age British mystery.

Just as with the older stories, House of Ghosts meanders quite a bit before getting to the meat of the story. Also, if you are looking for a ghost story or a spy story, this is not a good choice. But if you don’t mind a leisurely mystery where literally everyone has a motive, this is an excellent choice for a few hours of entertainment by being transported to a difficult time in humankind’s history. 4 stars!

Thanks to Arcade, Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A fun mystery and suspense throughout to sit back, relax and go with the flow. I loved the detailed scenes, characters, and cover. Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest rating/review.
Was this review helpful?