[Book Review] HOUSE OF SPINES: Vivid, Haunting, and Satisfying



A black snake was sliding across the wooden floor towards him, risen from a swamp, and the house shivered in anticipation of its bite.




House of Spines

Author: Michael J. Malone

Genre: Adult, Psychological Thriller

Published on August 16, 2017 by Orenda Books

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, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…


Source: Freepik

House of Spines is one of the best books I’ve read this 2017. Michael J Malone weaves a tale of dark crimes surrounding a man with an unstable mental state, all set in rural Scotland. The storytelling is slow as it explores the main character’s, Ranald’s, experience in the his newly acquired possession and the town he moved to. The vivid imagery and the haunting atmosphere will titillate the mind of any crime lover.

In House of Spines we follow a writer who suddenly inherits a mansion from late uncle he never met. The house is the dream of any bibliophile with its isolated property, a massive garden, and a library to stop a reader’s heart. The description of the mansion is both gloomy and mysterious even as we follow Ranald on his explorations. Each discover Ranald comes across seems to only further complicate the tangled web.


Like a gentle stream, the supernatural flows into Ranald’s story. As I progressed in the story I found myself becoming just as hypnotized as Ranald by this woman in the mirror. Her presence enriched the already dark atmosphere, blurring the lines between the normal and abnormal. However, the novel is not a ghost story at all! In spite of the elements of horror House of Spines is, at its core, a psychological thriller that unhinges it readers and characters alike.

The intermingling of the supernatural and the crimes brings to life a chilling and shocking story. Every unraveling in House of Spines had me putting the book down in order to take it all in. It’s a visceral read made me feel as though a shadow of  the story was breathing down my neck while I read.

House of Spines, an unsettling tale, is a delicious read that will scald its readers at each twist.

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I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, my opinion of the book is my own.

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3 thoughts on “[Book Review] HOUSE OF SPINES: Vivid, Haunting, and Satisfying

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