November 24, 2019

#BookReview: A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan


Synopsis: Finalist for the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction Book of the Year, a Classic Cozy Big-House Mystery Haunted by the Specters of World War One—For Readers of Agatha Christie and Simone St. James

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives. At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, armaments manufacturer Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons, both of whom died at the front.

Among the guests, two have been secretly dispatched from the intelligence service: Kate Cartwright, a friend of the family who lost her beloved brother at the Somme and who, in the realm of the spiritual, has her own special gift; and the mysterious Captain Donovan, recently returned from Europe. Top secret plans for weapons developed by Lord Highmount’s company have turned up in Berlin, and there is reason to believe enemy spies will be in attendance. As the guests arrive, it becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends, they find themselves trapped on the island. Soon one of their number will die. For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . . .

An unrelenting, gripping mystery, packed with twists and turns and a kindling of romance, A House of Ghosts is the perfect cold-weather read.


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About the Author: W. C. Ryan is also known as William Ryan, who has won acclaim for his historical crime novels in the Captain Korolev series. The first book, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for a Crime Writers' Association’s New Blood Dagger, a Barry Award, the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, and the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year. The second, The Bloody Meadow, was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year, and the third, The Twelfth Department, was also shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year as well as the CWA’s Historical Fiction Dagger and was a Guardian Crime Novel of the Year. His books have been published in eighteen countries. William lives in London and teaches creative writing at City University.

Rating: ★★★
My Review: 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.  










Finalist for the NBA Irish Book Awards Crime Fiction Book of the Year
"I don’t say this lightly: A House of Ghosts is one of the best books I’ve read this year. . . . A House of Ghosts is a throwback in the best of ways. Ryan uses tropes and framework made classic by the likes of Christie and Sayers to crafta cunning, many-tiered story that, paradoxically, feels both fresh and familiar. This is a ghostly big house mystery that’s cozy and invigorating."Criminal Element

"This unconventional historical mystery combines spies, ghosts, and wartime in a riveting Agatha Christie–type story that tells of the tragedy of a lost generation. . . . Seems designed for fans of Charles Todd’s 'Ian Rutledge' books."—Library Journal, starred review

"A ripping yarn . . . Agatha Christie fans will have fun."—Publishers Weekly

"Ryan pulls out all the stops. . . . There'll be séances, unmaskings, things that go bump in the night, voices from beyond the grave, and revelations of several different characters' unsuspectedly dark connections to the Great War. Throughout the alarums and excursions, the low-maintenance heroine maintains a composure that should serve her well in the promised series."—Kirkus Reviews

"A promising mix of supernatural and historical thriller."—Booklist

“A genre-blending fusion of old-school ‘big house’ mystery, romantic suspense, and spine-tingler. There’s plenty of conventionally spooky fun to be had—secret passages, apparitions and the like—but what gives this book real atmosphere isn’t so much the jump scares as the well-rendered pathos of a country struggling to come to terms with the loss of a generation.”—Guardian

“A delightfully old-school Agatha Christie-style mystery with a supernatural element . . . Wonderfully written and a jolly good read.”—Sunday Independent

“An enjoyable ghostly whodunnit.”—The Times

“An intelligent, absorbing, exquisitely spooky mystery.”—Irish Times

“An atmospheric, hugely entertaining mystery that offers all the pleasures of a classic ghost story - with an appealing dash of romance. William Ryan is a wonderful storyteller and A House of Ghosts will keep you up reading (and shivering) deep into the night.”—Antonia Hodgson, winner of the CWA Historical Dagger Award

“A thoroughly enjoyable novel that seemed to combine all my favourite things—history, crime, entertainingly spiky romance and an eerily evocative setting. An absolute treat.”—Elly Griffiths, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award

“A splendid tale of wartime skulduggery, featuring both kinds of spooks—perfect fireside reading.” —Mick Herron, winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award

“If you are feeling brave, A House of Ghosts is one to read by candlelight with a large gin and tonic on standby. Almost unbearably creepy and beautifully written, the claustrophobic atmosphere will have you running into open fields as soon as dawn breaks. Bravo!”—Liz Nugent, author of Lying in Wait

“W. C. Ryan makes the familiar World War I country-house setting feel immediate, with a tough but principled hero and a rogue's gallery of villains of all classes and kinds. Hugely enjoyable, A House of Ghosts has the bones of a taut thriller wrapped up in the gorgeous romance of its ghostly island setting.”—Jane Casey, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award

“A truly creepy and ingenious ghost story and murder mystery with an irresistible setting. From the first page you know you are in the hands of an excellent writer.”—Ragnar Jonasson, author of the Dark Iceland Series

“Taut and poetic pose, engaging protagonists, a page-turning plot and an evocative setting—making for another atmospheric and thrilling read . . . A spooky romantic read that will appeal to fans of historical fiction, crime, ghost and spy novels alike.”—The Lady

“Spooks, spies, seances, things that go bump in the night - A House of Ghosts has it all. A tremendously enjoyable, ingeniously-plotted take on the haunted house mystery. Best read before dark!”— Tammy Cohen, author of Dying for Christmas

“Shiver inducing beautifully written and immersive story—think Agatha Christie meets M. R. James but done in Mr. Ryan's own indomitable style.”—Liz Loves Books

“An elegantly constructed take on a historical spy novel, one that has just the right touch of the gothic.”—Shots Mag

“A new twist to an old tale ... I hope that we will get to see what happens in their next adventure—the ending left some room for a sequel, which I would very happily read!”—A Storm of Pages

“A stunning novel, a thoroughly absorbing read that combines a chilling ghost story . . . As the evenings draw in, A House of Ghosts is the perfect read. It's so easy to lose yourself in it. It's beautifully written . . . impossible to put down.”—For Winter Nights

“A captivating read . . . classic crime that lovers of Christie will lap up.”—My Weekly

“A multi-layered, gothic masterpiece . . . entertaining, thought-provoking and utterly captivating.”—Lancashire Evening Post

“A classic murder mystery set in a haunted house—this stylish tale will be a perfect read for this winter.”—Sunday People

“Beautifully written and ingenious period piece combines history, crime and an entertainingly spiky romance, all in an eerily evocative setting. Spooks, spies, seances, things that go bump in the night—Ryan has it all in this tremendously enjoyable take on the haunted house mystery.”—Crime Review

“A gripping mystery with a classic feel.”—Crime Readers' Association









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