Book Review: The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Flame Tree Press, an imprint of Flame Tree Publishing.

The Haunting of Henderson Close is a ghost story, with elements of supernatural and historical fiction, by Catherine Cavendish about the escape of an evil, demonic presence in the heart of Edinburgh.

I was intrigued by the classification of The Haunting of Henderson Close as a horror, mystery and thriller novel, as I love to read books in these genres.

I liked the hints at ghostly activity presented at the start of the book. Gradually, these ghostly hints seem to point towards a more malevolent, demonic activity, suggesting the threat is more serious than a simple haunted museum. At times though, it felt as if Cavendish was trying to write a historical murder mystery rather than a supernatural ghost story, as a lot of the story focuses on Hannah, the protagonist, investigating a Victorian murder case, rather than directly investigating demons, ghosts, and legends of hauntings.

Cavendish’s use of flashbacks provide interesting visions of the past, which brings to life the history behind the museum in which Hannah now works. It’s interesting to know that the streets the protagonist gives historical tours on are the same streets the ghosts once walked on. However, at points, these flashbacks to the past seemed too sudden and jarred with the present-day narrative, so perhaps narrative cohesion and clarity could be improved in the future.

The use of setting was one of the main strengths of the book, as the descriptions of 19th century Edinburgh were detailed and made it easy to imagine just what Victorian Scotland used to look like.

The ending of the book was darker, more serious, and more sad than I had originally anticipated. This is not a criticism however, as I’m not of the opinion that all books must have a happy ending.

Overall, The Haunting of Henderson Close is a reasonable ghost story with an interesting historical concept behind it.

The Haunting of Henderson Close is released today! It is available to buy as a paperback, hardback, or e-book directly from Flame Tree Publishing.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

– Judith

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Book Review: Ordeal by Innocence

Ordeal by Innocence is a murder mystery detective novel by the famous crime author Agatha Christie.

Mrs Rachel Argyle is found dead in her home. Her adopted son, Jack, is found guilty and sentenced. He dies in prison. Two years later, a man comes forward with an alibi for Jack, proving he was innocent. The question is, if Jack Argyle didn’t murder his mother, who did?

Image via BBC

Though I’ve only read a few so far, I’ve decided I really like Agatha Christie stories. They’re short but fun to read, and I like her clear style of writing.

I liked that there were some red herrings and a whole range of different plot devices used to withhold or reveal key pieces of information. I liked trying to understand the mystery and keep track of various clues that could be useful later on.

The characters were fine – although a little shallow and archetypal – and as there were so many characters, I felt they crowded one another.

Whilst I enjoyed reading through the mystery, I thought that the “whodunnit” reveal was annoyingly brief. When the true culprit was revealed, I was left a bit disappointed. Mostly, this was because I’d been imagining other possible endings, investigating the characters myself, and imagining potential secrets or motivations. However, my predictions were all wrong and I was dissatisfied with the answer given to me.

I haven’t seen the BBC adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence yet – although if it’s as good as their adaptation of And Then There Were None, I want to try and watch it at some point.*

*Since writing this blog post, I have watched the Ordeal by Innocence adaptation – all three episodes in one evening. Whilst a lot of key plot and character elements were altered, I still think the story was enjoyable as a dark, gritty drama. I really like the style of filming used for both the Ordeal by Innocence and And Then There Were None adaptations, and I admire the way the BBC have turned Christie’s books from an arguably light-hearted, rather quick-paced murder mystery into intriguing, dark, and mysterious TV series.

Overall, Ordeal by Innocence was still a fun read, but not as enjoyable as And Then There Were None (which still remains my favourite so far) but I liked reading more of Agatha Christie’s work.

– Judith

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is a young adult murder mystery.  I’ve seen quite a few blog posts about this book so, for once, I followed the hype and asked for it for my birthday. I liked it.

One Of Us Is Lying is a fun teen drama that isn’t too cliché, despite its focus on teenage stereotypes and high school. The writing is self-aware and calls attention to its stereotyped characters: the geek, the jock, the criminal, and the princess.

The book adopts the point of view of all 4 suspected characters: Bronwyn, Cooper, Nate, and Addy. This allows you to get to know their personalities quite well, and understand their thoughts, and I thought all 4 of them were fairly likeable.

The author uses the phrase ‘more unique’ – a phrase that makes no sense and I can’t stand.

There were also some slightly forced references to popular youth culture such as Snapchat, Netflix, and Tumblr which, to me, felt like the author was trying a little too hard to be #relatable for the kids, but these aren’t huge criticisms.

The characters’ secrets were fun to find out, and it was interesting to read through and guess who was responsible.

I did work this out just before the “big reveal”, but the climax of the book seemed a little too rushed; I would have preferred more action/suspense once the characters worked out who the culprit was, but it concluded quite quickly afterwards.

All in all, One Of Us Is Lying was an enjoyable teen murder mystery, and a well-written debut novel.

– Judith