The Blackhouse

A Novel

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 03 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 03 Jan 2023


From the author of the “dark and devious...beautifully written” (Stephen King) Mirrorland comes a richly atmospheric thriller set on an isolated Scottish island where nothing is as it seems and shocking twists lie around every corner.

A remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.

Robert Reid moved his family to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1990s, driven by hope, craving safety and community, and hiding a terrible secret. But despite his best efforts to fit in, Robert is always seen as an outsider. And as the legendary and violent Hebridean storms rage around him, he begins to unravel, believing his fate on the remote island of Kilmeray cannot be escaped.

For her entire life, Maggie MacKay has sensed something was wrong with her. When Maggie was five years old, she announced that a man on Kilmeray—a place she’d never visited—had been murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.

Nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to find out what really happened, and what the islanders are hiding. But when she begins to receive ominous threats, Maggie is forced to consider how much she is willing to risk to discover the horrifying truth.

Unnerving, enthralling, and filled with gothic suspense, The Blackhouse is a spectacularly sinister tale readers won’t soon forget.
From the author of the “dark and devious...beautifully written” (Stephen King) Mirrorland comes a richly atmospheric thriller set on an isolated Scottish island where nothing is as it seems and...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781982199678
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 42 members

Featured Reviews

I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It hooked me from the very beginning and kept me hooked the entire time.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Loved this book. Creepy and gothic. My two favorites. Very well written and an enjoyable read.
Definitely recommend this author!

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely loved everything about this psychological thriller!
The Blackhouse is beautifully written, exhilarating, twisty and dark.
A mind blowing, superb, clever blend of gothic thriller.
Johnstone knows how to grab her reader’s attention from the opening page and doesn’t let go.

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

Thank you for your generosity and gifting a copy of this approved eARC!

Was this review helpful?

Brrr! I cannot help myself! I’m shivering! This book is something unique ! It’s creepy, disturbing, breathtaking, claustrophobic!
You know some books scare the living daylights out of you so instead of burying your head into it, you want to put it down to hide under blankets till you gather your wits but you cannot stop reading it because you’re so hooked up, becoming addicted at each chapter, rooting for characters: yes, that’s exactly how I felt during my reading experience! I needed my blankets but I ignored to read more!

The portraits of tight knitted townies who are burden with something they cannot talk about were impressively well developed.

The layered, intense and vivid descriptions of the sightseeings make you close your eyes! You feel like you are already there. You shiver more, hearing the waves, seeing the black birds drawing circles above your head and seeing the blackhouse standing in front of you like a bleak vision of your worst nightmare.

Let’s give you more information about the plot and characters:

Maggie Mackay has a mission to return back to the remote village of Blairmore in Outer Hebrides! She’s haunted with nightmares connected with the place.

The first time she came here she was only five, screaming at townies that a man named Andrew MacNeil was drowned in the sea! No, he wasn’t just drowned. He was MURDERED! She knows she’s telling the truth because Andrew MacNeil was born for second time in her body! Yes, she’s product of incarnation!

She’s accompanied by her mother who is also a medium, believing in her daughter and TV crew to film the entire supernatural journey.
Of course the townies denied everything she’s said and sent them back!

But now her mother died. She had a horrifying episode at the crematorium. After being locked a psych ward, she barely controls her mood swings. She left her boyfriend and sacked from her writing gig.

She has nothing to lose, being ready to face her demons by returning back to the place where everything started.

As soon as she arrives, the hostility and unwelcoming attitudes of townies give her second thoughts. Somebody keeps watching her in the dark, stalking her each move.

Finally she finds out she is not losing her mind because a man was actually drowned at the sea. He changed his name as Robert and started a family at the island. That man was running away from his last because he has done something truly bad!

I’m stopping here not to blurt out much but I have to admit this is perfectly written psychological thriller with paranormal vibes.
I also enjoyed the blooming love story.

The ending was jaw dropping and breath taking.
I loved so many characters especially Charlie, Kelly were my favorites.

I think this is my favorite work of the author! Giving my intense, bleak, dark, perfectly claustrophobic stars!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

Was this review helpful?

This was a fantastic read! In this novel, we follow Maggie, who is returning to a small island in the Scottish Outer Hebrides that she had visited when she was young. Why? Because as a young child, she insisted she was reincarnated and the man she once was was murdered. Her mother took her to this locale--with a video crew in tow--to uncover the truth. Back then, all it did was anger the locals and leave her with bad memories of the experience. Now her mother is dead, and Maggie is back to learn the truth.

The setting is great, the characters are persuasive and engaging, and the plot keeps you guessing. Is Maggie really a reincarnated man? Or did her mother "plant" memories in her head? Was there a murder? Or was the man a troubled soul who had his own demons? The author does a great job of letting the reader walk that line for most of the book. I was thoroughly entertained.

I haven't read Johnstone's first novel, but certainly will now. If you like dark mysteries with a hint of (potential) supernatural set in eco-gothic settings, than you'll love this one!

Was this review helpful?

I've read a few books set in Scotland, most recently, Once There Were Wolves, so I was thrilled to get approved for this one. It's a great atmospheric suspenseful read. This is set in two time periods, which makes it extra suspenseful because you become aware of things that present-day Maggie doesn't know quite yet. Really great read!

Was this review helpful?

I thought this would be perfect for me and I was right! For the fans of all things gothic, creepy and engaging. I'd happily read more from this author.

Was this review helpful?

Wow. This was a very, very good book. So many twists and turns I never saw coming. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. It was bittersweet to finish because of just how powerful the story really is. Definitely recommend!!

Was this review helpful?

The Blackhouse was deliciously dark. Reading this was like standing in the middle of a forest as a dark, windy storm descended. I could smell, taste, feel the sea that was an ever present entity in this thriller. It was its own character. I fell in love with the setting just as much as I fell in love with Carole Johnstone’s writing all over again. This will be a fantastic spooky season read.

Was this review helpful?

I think going into books blind is my new favorite thing because this book surprised me. It was so creepy and uncomfortable yet at the same time its entertaining and chilling. I am so grateful to have been able to read this ARC but I am deff going to buy this book when it comes out. I love it.

Was this review helpful?

This was a new author for me . I never read anything from this author before but for the most part I really liked this book. I thought the whole story was amazing. I honestly didn’t want this book to end. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with on the next book they write. I usually judge a book from the cover because for me it shows if it’s going to be interesting or not and I loved the book.

Was this review helpful?

A haunting tale of suspense.

Maggie, a young woman struggling with bipolar disorder and who has recently lost her mother, arrives on Kilmery, a small island off the west coast of Scotland. She does not receive a warm welcome from the locals; they soon recognize her as the child who arrived on the island twenty years earlier with her mother and a film crew, claiming to be the reincarnation of a man named Andrew who had lived there…and who said that Andrew had been murdered.

Maggie is driven to find the truth about Andrew and her childhood insistence that she was linked to him. Does she have actual psychic gifts, as her mother had always claimed? Or was it a product of being bipolar? As she asks pursues the truth and stirs up bad memories for the townspeople, both her sanity and her life may be at risk.

Carole Johnstone weaves together the clannish nature of a small isolated community, Nordic mythology and superstitions, and the eerie backdrop of an island scoured by harsh weather and with many secrets to keep. As I read, I felt clearly the menace that surrounded Maggie both internally and externally. The descriptions of the locale added to the overall bleak atmosphere of the book. I was kept guessing right up until the end. A well-written dark mystery, and definitely worth the read….but perhaps not if you’re alone in a small house on a dark winter’s night.

Was this review helpful?

I was slowly pulled into this mesmerizing book. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading. The writing is wonderful. It's an interesting blend of paranormal, mystery and thriller that kept me guessing until the end.

An underlying theme is mental illness. The MC struggles with whether there is something paranormal or if she just suffers from a mental illness. Another character is seemingly unaware of the extent of his. I didn't find that the subject was treated lightly or callously. In fact. It highlighted how ill prepared we are to appropriately deal with the mentally ill.

The author earns a spot on my favorites list. Highly recommend this book.

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful ARC.

Was this review helpful?

This book was everything I wanted it to be. It had me turned pages without even realizing. It was so good!

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: