Book Review: The Unquiet House

The Unquiet House by Alison Littlewood is a paranormal horror set in Yorkshire. It is about Emma Dean, a young woman who inherits Mire House, an old abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. However, Emma begins to see ghostly figures and wonder what secrets Mire House is keeping.

I wasn’t sure what to make of The Unquiet House – personally, I think Mire House might have worked as a better title, especially as I kept accidentally reading it as ‘The Uniquest House’.

As a Yorkshire native myself, Littlewood’s references to Yorkshire place-names and most characters’ Yorkshire accents, evidenced in their dialogue, were pleasant enough, though I can imagine some readers getting frustrated trying to translate!

The Unquiet House is separated into different narrative strands. Each strand is set in a different era, but all the narratives are linked by paranormal activities taking place at Mire House.

It’s a conventional enough horror story, with some very strong resemblances in places to The Woman In Black. Admittedly, I did like The Woman In Black, but it would be nice if modern ghost stories weren’t all the same. The Woman In Black film adaptation was released in 2012 and The Unquiet House was published in 2014, so I find it difficult to believe there wasn’t deliberate overlap.

The narrative of each strand was incredibly character-driven, which worked in Littlewood’s favour, as most characters were developed well enough for me to care about their fears.

However, ending was a very mixed bag; it fluctuated wildly between slightly dull with a great twist, fairly exciting, then back to dull. I would have much preferred a punchier, dramatic ending.

Overall, The Unquiet House was enjoyable, but I can’t recall anything overly scary happening; the supernatural occurrences didn’t feel as eerie as they could have been. A possible side-effect of reading too much Stephen King perhaps.

 – Judith


Book Review: Gaelan’s War by Thaddeus McGrath

Gaelan’s War is a horror thriller about a war veteran who must battle a growing population of werewolves after being stricken with the same curse.

My Photo [Gaelan's War].jpg

Gaelan’s War was gripping and well-written, and was a pleasure to read.

Gaelan, though I admit his name was confusing to pronounce, was a well-developed protagonist. His position as an ex-veteran, inspired by McGrath’s own experiences as a former U.S. Marine Corps fighter, provided an interesting backstory.

Other characters such as Trey, Angelo and Natalia were also a great group of antagonistic figures, though it took me longer than expected to remember who they were, and understand their group dynamic. However, towards the end of the story, glimpses of their personalities and relationships became clearer as they shared sarcastic moments.

The fight scenes in Gaelan’s War were fantastic and gory – not that I’m a huge fan of gore – and made it clear this was not a fluffy YA spin-off of sparkling vampires or angsty werewolves, reminding me of how great horror and thriller authors use gore to enhance descriptions too.

At various points in the story, such as in fight scenes or family gatherings, there are influxes of lots of minor characters. However, this resulted in a lot of random character names being thrown around, taking the focus away from the main characters and giving the impression these minor characters were only included to “make up the numbers”. I think these scenes would have worked better if people were loosely described or nicknamed by the narrator. The inclusion of names and character descriptions for multiple minor characters may bog a story down unnecessarily.

The use of capitalisation in dialogue also frustrated me, happening too often to ignore; if most the dialogue is written in CAPITALS then everyone is shouting and nothing is emphasised. I spoke to McGrath about this and he said, “It’s a carryover from my military days. That’s when you knew someone was yelling at you in a correspondence – never good when coming from your commanding officer!”

Speaking of (ha) dialogue, I also thought there were too many terms of affection used between characters such as ‘bubba’, ‘kiddo’ and ‘sweetie’. If people genuinely use these terms in real life, I apologise, but I found these difficult to read.

My favourite scenes were anything that included werewolf transformations and attacks or supernatural occurrences because these are the elements I enjoy most in supernatural horror fiction.

The ending was open-ended, leaving room for a sequel, but Gaelen’s War can function as a stand-alone novel too.

I liked Gaelan’s War and if you like war stories, action, horror or the supernatural, you will too.

Star Rating: 4/5

Gaelan’s War is available to buy as a paperback or hardback from or

– Judith

Book Review: Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers

“Old houses are never truly quiet.”

Ghosts of Manor House is Powers’ debut thriller and horror novel, about Edmund and Mary Wilder, a married couple shattered by the loss of their young son. Mary receives an invitation for the family to become guests at Manor House, an apparently quaint hotel, but Edmund soon realises all is not as it seems.

My Photo [Ghosts of Manor House]

In his author’s note, Powers explains he “wanted a story that fits with my memories of watching The Haunting, The Changeling and The Shining.

This horror genre is definitely conveyed; the opening of Ghosts of Manor House was enjoyable and suitably unsettling – I won’t give any spoilers away – but it peaked my interest in the story.

I really like haunted house stories; this book delivered all the conventions that you may expect from one – mysterious voices, creaky floorboards, and an ominous housekeeper.

Mary and Edmund’s grief at the tragic death of their son, and their desire to bring him back, to me, echoed Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, a horror novel about a burial site that holds the power of life, even after death. Admittedly, I read Ghosts of Manor House not long after finishing Pet Sematary, so King’s story was still fresh in my mind. This this may not have been an intentional echo, it may have been my own interpretation.

Although a fictional story, Powers does his best to keep his characters and situations realistic. For the most part, this is effective. However, I don’t think Edmund or Mary were developed as well as they could have been, though this may be the constraint of writing a shorter book.

The use of the present tense to narrate the story throughout was an… interesting choice. To me, this made some of the writing feel clunky and amateurish because I didn’t know what purpose this served. The use of flashbacks to reveal what truly happened to the family was a good technique, but until these started, I at times got lost in the various narrative strands – it was very difficult to place where the characters were, though this may have been Powers’ intention.

Edmund’s over-personifying of Manor House frustrated me as well; I liked the concept of a haunted house coming to life, but if every description of the house is personified, it loses the subtlety great horror has.

On the whole, Ghosts of Manor House is a quick read and a reasonably enjoyable haunted house story.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Ghosts of Manor House is available to buy as an e-book, paperback, or audiobook from or

– Judith