The Blackhouse

A Novel

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Pub Date 03 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 03 Jan 2023

Description

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...

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ISBN 9781982199678
PRICE $28.00 (USD)
PAGES 320

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Average rating from 171 members


Featured Reviews

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

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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!

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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.”

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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The Blackhouse is a steadily paced story of the hazards of secrets and self-deception. The story is not simple. There were a few instances when I was impatient with the pace, only to be reminded within pages that this story is intricate - happily rewarded with a new insight so good my interest was again captured. I found Maggie's struggle with guilt and self-doubt was relatable and I was pleased with her mental and emotional growth. I enjoyed this book very much. It kept me guessing until the end.

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I thought that this was a great book. I got a little confused with some of the Norse terminology, but aside from that, it was a something different from the "normal" thriller, which I appreciate.

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Murder mystery. Gothic ghost story. Island myth and legend. This book has it all and more. The writing was so vivid I could hear and see all in this story, and couldn’t put it down. While the characters are rich and bodied, the authors intention to make the land and sea the central character captured me as much as it did the people in the story. Truly the dark and stormy Hebrides come alive in this book and it’s easy to see how such a place holds peoples souls.
Well done to the author and many thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy.

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The stormy, windswept cliffs and beaches of a Scottish island were a perfect backdrop for this dual timeline story of a troubled woman who returns to a remote village in search of answers about her past and her lifelong belief she's the reincarnation of a local man who vanished during a storm but who she believes was murdered. Secrets and lies abound and the line between truth and deception is hard to find in this absorbing tale.

Blackhouse was a slow paced but complex and multi layered story where little was as it initially appeared. There was a large cast of characters, though only 2 points of view, so patience was required in the beginning to keep all the characters and their relationships straight.

One of the things I loved about both Blackhouse and the author's other book, Mirrorland, is that she didn't shy away from crafting a complex, at times confusing plot. I go into one of her works knowing I'm going to need to pay close attention or else end up lost, but the payoff is always so satisfying and complete that it's a trade for which I eagerly sign up. I enjoy the ride because I know the story is in the hands of an author who knows where things are headed and will both tie all the loose threads together in the end and leave me with a story that'll linger in my thoughts for a long time.

Superstition, reincarnation, an archeological dig, possibly unreliable narrators, a volatile, ancient setting, a slowly unfolding mystery spanning 25 years, and an unforgettable ending all added up to an absorbing, eerie reading experience. The atmosphere gave such a haunting, moody feel to the story that it was easy to believe strange things were possible and thin places actually existed.

This book is exactly the type of dark, slowly unfolding story I love losing myself in and I enjoyed every minute spent in the world of the Blackhouse.

A big thank you to Netgalley and Scribner for providing me a copy to read and review.

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The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

The author had this wonderful descriptive ability to make a place both ghastly and ghostly; a place where I could hear the wind and the sea as I read the book or felt the fear and animosity of the townspeople of the island where this is set.
The local names did put the reader (me) at a definite disadvantage in the progress of reading the book…….it slowed my reading speed down as I tried to sound out unfamiliar words or look them up.
I am not a fan of the dark gothic genre but this was a good representation for anyone who is fond of this type storyline. There’s a town with a secret, a woman with a reincarnation memory that has driven her mad for years, deceitful people willing to do anything to keep the real facts hidden, and a hope for happiness.
Eerie and suspenseful read.

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New to me authors but won’t be the last time I read a book by them! Loved it! Kept me guessing til the end!

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An atmospheric mystery told from two points of view, The Blackhouse is set in a remote island village on the wild Atlantic Ocean in the outer Hebrides. Maggie MacKay, arriving posing as a journalist wanting to write a story, is met with distrust by a village determined to keep a secret. The layers of lies and stories of Robert, a villager who is said to have died in a storm nearly 20 years ago, Maggie, and the village are slowly revealed with twists that kept me hooked. Occasionally the story got a bit slow, parts of the telling of the relationship between Maggie and her mother seemed a bit repetitive to me at times, but the story had me hooked with nearly each chapter introducing a glimpse of something that turned what you thought was true upside down. The island itself is a part of the story with its wild storms and rough beauty, the salt air and the weather that can change in a moment.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy, it definitely transported me to a rugged place where everyone needs to rely on their neighbors.

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This is a powerful, haunting, insightful, slow burn. Both a mystery and a love story and a coming to accept who you are and who you were. A woman comes back to the sea, where as a child, she said she was a man who used to live there and was murdered. She comes back to solve the mystery of his murder, if it even had happened. to understand and resolve her grief over her mother's death and her part in it To understand what is truth, what is guilt and what is responsibility. With parallel stories, hers and his. HIs guilt, his complicated relationship with his father. The sea, the community, doesn't welcome her. Is she in danger, Is she imagining things. what is mental health. Lots of themes explored.

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This book has gothic, paranormal, and psychological thriller genes all wrapped up into one neat book. Personally, I loved this book but I will say it is not for someone who likes thrillers but does not like paranormal phenomena in their books. But if you do, you MUST read this book. I have had Mirrorland on my TBR and now I am moving it up on my list to read sooner than later

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Gothic suspense novels are a favorite of mine and this book did not disappoint! Great winter to ready curl up in front of the fire! Loved it!

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Creepy, gothic, dark, atmospheric and made me feel DAMN cold from the writing of the storms and weather and honestly? Bravo to an author that can write so well, you FEEL the fictional storms.

This was really good and yet another knock out performance from Johnstone!

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This book was so good. I really enjoy creepy and gothic titles. It was definitely everything I thought it was so to be. It kept me hook from beginning to end. I read it all in one day. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for giving me the chance to review the book. I highly recommend this book

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The Blackhouse had me enthralled from the start. Once I muddled through all the names and butchered the pronunciation of most, I was able to fully immerse myself into the book. I felt like I was on that island. The worldbuilding was flawless and effortless from the start.

There is a little of everything in this book and they are all done exceedingly well. There is suspense and moments of terror that had my heart racing. There was romance and a touch of spice.

There were so many red herrings that I had absolutely no idea what the ending would be. I had so many questions and possibilities in my mind and the true ending did not disappoint.

I can find zero complaints about this book and enthusiastically give it 5/5 stars.

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Our first book takes place in Scotland, so when you hear the name Blackhouse, you know you're in for a gothic ride, and you are! In this thriller mystery, Maggie comes to Scotland seeking truth, but what she finds are memories that the residents don't want to revisit. As she discovers that the blackhouse she is staying at is related to a village mystery that occurred about the same time she was there, she soon realizes that someone connected to the house is watching her. But are they threatening her, or watching to warn her? As she delves more into the past she sets herself on a path to bring lost held memories to light for all, but are they ready for the truth? This is a page-turner that will keep you reading long into the night!

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There is no need to make you wait until the end of my review for you to know that this is without a doubt a five star read but then again its Carole Johnstone, would you expect anything else?

I first met Carole Johnstone when I became obsessed with Mirrorland . Having been a debut, I was completely left in awe with not only the writing style but the passion that embodied the author and sprinkled across every page. I knew without a doubt that I had become an instant fan and this was just the beginning of a longstanding "book-ship".

Carole Johnstone out did her self with The Blackhouse. This book is literary gold and will have everyone buzzing come January 3, 2023. I was lucky enough to snag an ARC and I am eternally grateful.

There is something really special about being approved for a book/author you really idolize. To me, that is Carole Johnstone. I swear I cried when I saw the approval email come in. Never in my life did I ever think I would have the opportunity to read and review books that I am so passionate about but here I am!

So, as I catch my breath and begin, I pray I do this book the justice it deserves...

I was never a big fan of super natural elements but as I reflect back I now know that it just takes the right author to make something you would typically pass up, enjoyable. Johnstone does just that. The character development is executed with such precision that you almost feel as though these people are standing right before you in the flesh.

The way Johnstone is able to tell a story and captivate your attention early on is admirable and exactly what I need. I have a short attention span and if you don't catch me within the first couple of chapters I tend to lose focus.

This was never an issue.

I was instantly drawn in to The Blackhouse. I could not flip the pages fast enough. There was no bathroom breaks, or time outs, there would be nothing that could interfere with me and my book.

This book is dark and not for the faint of heart. It is also incredible and will leave you begging for more all while leaving you with the biggest book hangover of your life.

Don't take my word for it, pick up your own copy on January 3!

Kudos to Carole Johnstone for another 5 star hit! You are what nightmares are made of <3 in all the best ways possible.

Teaser :

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

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Yes!!! This book had all my favorite things and gripped me in a vice from the start. I love any book that is set in Scotland, bonus points for being on a desolate island in the Outer Hebrides. The descriptions will leave you shivering as the harsh wind slaps your face, the icy rain comes down in buckets, and the pounding surf becomes your daily sounds. It is a rough place that gets into your soul, one that you can never forget. The village is made up of a tightknit group of people, who will be there for one another no matter what. I loved the character details and deep layers. Maggie will become your sister, Kelly the friend you wished you had, Will the one you will fall head over heels for, and Charlie the one who will always look out for you. The plot will take you on a wild goose chase. I had no idea what was coming and who would be doing it. This book is phenomenally written and will leave you with the feeling that someone is always watching, someone is always waiting for you...

Maggie has just lost her mother and is determined to find out the truth of her life. Since she was five years old, she believed that she was Andrew MacNeil. A man that was murdered on the small island of Kilmeray. She and her mom visited there before when she was five, with a documentary film crew. The town closed ranks and they left without any answers. Twenty years later she needs to find out what happened to Andrew, for her own mental health. She steps off the ferry and feels a rush of memories coming back to her. Will she be able to find out the truth before it is too late?

This book is a slow burn that will set your soul on fire. The island will settle into your bones and have you seeing and hearing crazy things. The storms that blow in regularly set the perfect tone. I loved every single word, and the twists and turns will have you running circles around the island. It is not just a thriller. It is a story about a thin place, where people work their fingers to the bone to make a living. They love one another no matter what and are determined to protect their way of life. You need to read this book. There is thrills, chills, romance, friendships, and archaeology!! Thank you to Carole Johnstone and Scribner for gifting me a copy of this vividly, suspenseful read.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC to read and review.

Maggie MacKay returns to a small island in Scotland that she visited as a five year old child after claiming that a man had been murdered there. Tensions rose in the community as a result of her accusation and 20 years later, the locals aren’t exactly pleased to see Maggie again as she investigated to learn the truth. Soon Maggie finds herself the target of some mysterious threats and begins to wonder if her search for the truth is worth the cost.

This book was so well written. Once I got into the plot, I couldn’t stop reading it. It really kept me guessing. It is rare for a twist to really surprise me, but twists in this book did multiple times. I was very invested in finding out what would happen to both characters in the alternating timelines. If you enjoyed Mirrorland, I am sure you will like this story as well! I will be keeping Carole Johnstone on my must-read list!

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"Mirrorland" was one of the best books I read last year, so when I saw that Carole Johnstone had released a new book, I knew I had to drop everything and read it. There is no sophomore slump for this author! "The Blackhouse" was absolutely phenomenal and cemented Ms. Johnstone as one of my favorite authors. It's the kind of book that makes the reader want to take a day off from work to read it cover to cover in one sitting...and that is exactly what I did! The author's writing really made the story come alive to me; it created such vivid pictures in my mind that it felt more like watching a movie than reading a book. Her words created such a tense and dreary atmosphere, I could feel the heavy ocean air pressing down on my chest while reading. Parts of this book sent actual shivers down my spine! The characters were entirely believable and well developed. I love psychological thrillers with paranormal elements, and this book hit every mark for me. I believe "The Blackhouse" will be considered one of the best horror novels for 2023!

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the privilege of reading an advanced digital copy of this tremendous book, in exchange for my honest review.

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Thank you to Scribner, NetGalley and the author, Carole Johnstone for the e-ARC of this novel.

It isn't often that a book leaves me speechless but The Blackhouse certainly did. I got lost in the author's descriptions of the setting, the characters and the incredibly interesting premise of this novel. This novel had so many elements - a murder mystery, personal battles with mental illness, elements that felt supernatural and sometimes creepy, and heartwarming/heart-wrenching characters and relationships. I absolutely LOVED it and it may be one of my top reads of 2022.

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The Blackhouse is an atmospheric, slow burn gothic mystery. The story is set perfectly in this isolated, turbulent island. The author really has a knack for creating a sense of place really makes the book so creepy, and so impossible to put down.

The characters were well-drawn, and I enjoyed how each twist in the plot left me further from figuring things out. It is an original, clever thriller that readers will really enjoy! I can't wait to recommend this to mystery readers looking for something a little new!

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From a young age, Maggie was sure she was someone else, a man from Kilmeray. Her insistence gains national attention, allowing her mother takes her there to prove Maggie is who she says she is. But, unfortunately, they leave disappointed, as no such man exists. Over the years, some memories have faded, but still, Kilmeray stays in her mind. So when her mother dies, she heads back to Blairmore, to the community that didn’t want them there and a past riddled with secrets.

I was on a blog tour for Johnstone’s previous release, Mirrorland, and adored the book. So I’m pleased to say that she did not disappoint with The Blackhouse.

This book is so atmospheric, you’re completely immersed in the setting. The inhabitants don’t want Maggie there, and they’re shady as heck, making it hard for her to know who to trust. She’s bipolar and scared that some of the shady happenings are due to herself, and not her surroundings. The multi-layered storyline has varying timelines that weave Maggie and Robert together across the years. Books that take place in such small towns don’t always unfold at a breakneck speed, which suits the book perfectly.

If you read multiple books at once, I recommend saving time and temporarily abandoning the others because you won’t want to put this down. The atmosphere, the shady characters, the creeptacular setting, and history, with the mystery element, come together beautifully. This is such a fun and addicting read.

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Thank you so much to Net Galley, the publisher, and author for providing this book for my review. I am a bit new to Gothic thrillers, but I have decided I very much enjoy them. This is definitely one of those wonderful atmospheric and spooky gothic thrillers. A young girl imagined she had been a man in a past life and was murdered by someone still living on the island. All grown up, that woman is back on the island. I have never read anything like this book. This book was so interesting and kept me invested the entire time. I can’t wait to read more by this author. Thank you again to Net Galley, the publisher, and author for providing this book for my review.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner Publishing for gifting me a digital ARC of the sophomore novel by Carole Johnstone - 4.5 creepy stars rounded up!

Maggie MacKay has been told that she is special all her life by her mother, who claimed psychic abilities and saw them in her daughter as well. When they visited a remote coastal village in Scotland when Maggie was very small, Maggie claimed that she was Andrew MacNeil and he had been murdered there. This of course caused an uproar of media attention and caused Maggie to feel differently about herself as well. As an adult, Maggie feels the pull to go back to the village to see what she can find out, but she doesn't get a warm response from the locals. Soon she's scared and questioning everything.

This is a slow book, especially in the beginning, as it alternates chapters between Maggie in the present day and a man named Robert in the past. The atmosphere is creepy and definitely a huge element in this story, along with myths and superstitions. But once I got into it, I found that I couldn't put it down. There's lots to sort out here, with many different locals to keep track of, but it's worth the effort! Also plenty of topics - community, family, mental health, and trying to figure out who you are. Great read!

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"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."

Because I know you're like me and need to know if she did know about a man on Kilmeray being murdered!

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Set in a small village on a remote Scottish island, The Blackhouse is a vivid, dark, atmospheric mystery. As in Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone’s debut thriller, fantasy, myth and reality blend together so well that you don’t know what to believe.

Maggie has returned to the island to understand her past. When she was five, she announced that the villagers had killed a man named Andrew and that she was his reincarnation. She became a child celebrity, managed by her mother, a pseudo psychic who benefitted from her daughter’s success. There are many questions without easy answers. Why are the villagers so suspicious? What are they hiding? Maggie has been mentally ill and hospitalized. How real are her memories? Did her mother influence her for publicity. Did Andrew even exist?

The Blackhouse is beautifully written with a deliberately slow moving plot and flawed characters. The wild weather on Kilmeray is a character itself! 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Carole Johnstone for this ARC.

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This tense and atmospheric novel is Carole Johnstone at her best! The nuance of characters, relationships and dynamics are well crafted and multilayered. The plot and several subplots within it work very well together and enhance the story. A twisty tale you can’t put down!

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The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is an excellent follow up to her debut, Mirrorland. I am a fan of this author's writing style and atmospheric stories. Jonhstone uses settings so effectively, be it the house and memories in Mirrorland or the small island and inhabitants and again a living space and memories in the Blackhouse and she understands how to really engage a reader with suspenseful, slow burn writing that holds attention and offers rewarding pay offs as the plot unfolds. I again found myself waiting with suspenseful joy to see how the story would tie together the past and present lives on the island, how memories and secrets would once again weave a compelling story from this writer.

I am grateful once more for the chance to support this writer and her work, Thank you to Scribner for this review copy!
perfect for: fans of Mirrorland, gothic style mysteries (little eve but without the horror for example, mexican gothic

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A slow burn suspense layered with bits of gothic noir. The storyline is supported by an unreliable protagonist, alternating timelines, and is heavily atmospheric. Johnstone writes brilliantly, offering unique subplots and fantastic characterization. Highly recommended.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC of #TheBlackhouse which was read and reviewed voluntarily.

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The Blackhouse is a story tied to the past, and questioning the future. When she was five years old, Maggie claimed that a man she had never met was murdered at a place she had never been to. Now, as an adult, Maggie revisits that island to discover the truth about the mystery man, and the truth about herself. But with the truth may come events and knowledge Maggie will wish she'd never experienced.

This was a bit of a slow moving book, but this mimicked the slowness of life on the island, so it worked. Maggie is a complex character I was immediately drawn to, and she is surrounded by a unique and crucial cast of characters (sometimes it felt there were too many characters and I got a little confused with who was who). The mystery is compelling and unusual, and the reveals are powerful and shocking. I would recommend this book.

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