- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (July 15, 2014)
- ISBN: 9781250041272
- Source: Library copy
Catherine’s life is in shambles. Loss of her previous job forced her to leave London. With a new job, she thought her life was on track, until her boyfriend, Michael, ended their relationship abruptly. When Catherine is presented with a new project, she’s initially reluctant to take it. Asked to catalogue a collection of antique dolls and puppets, it would require her to take up residence in the eccentric collector’s home. The last thing she needs right now is to be uprooted from her life, but the rare opportunity she’s been granted forbids her from saying no.
Upon her arrival to Red House, Catherine is introduced to Mason’s elderly niece. The eccentric woman shows Catherine her uncle’s collection of preserved and clothed rodents, each depicting a brutal scene from the Great War. As her time at Red House continues, Catherine can’t help but wonder of something darker, and more sinister, resides within its walls. When the visions and trances that plagued her as a child return, she is haunted by the darkness she thought therapy had erased. Excerpts of her memory come flooding back, producing a confusion between dreams and reality that threaten her sanity.
If the cover of The House of Small Shadows isn’t chilling enough, the story that resides within will terrify you. Taxidermy, creepy dolls and puppets….I shiver just thinking about it. Add the stark, cold setting Nevill creates in the Red House and you have the perfect recipe for a truly terrifying horror novel. It’s not just a scary, haunted house. It has a heaviness and darkness that permeates all senses.
There’s no denying Nevill is a tremendously talented author. Yet what makes his work stand out is how it takes you off guard, completely unsuspecting of what you are about to experience. Going in, I read the synopsis. I was prepared for a spooky house filled with creepy dolls. But Nevill went far beyond that to create a storyline so chilling and terrifying, I still have goosebumps every time I think about it.
The pacing is slow and deliberate, reminiscent of the classic Gothic ghost story. Nevill puts great effort into developing the mood and tone, crafting each word and phrase to create a stunningly terrifying read. He doesn’t use gore or gruesome scenes to relay terror, instead relying upon the psychological aspects of the fears that reside within us all.
I highly recommend The House of Small Shadows and, frankly, all of Nevill’s work, to fans of horror fiction. He’s an author whose work you will read once and become an instant, enduring fan. Highly, highly recommended.