Nice to see a couple of ladies of horror fiction on the Flame Tree Press list for spring. There are so many great women penning horror novels, and I'd like to see a bit more even representation, especially from presses that only publish genre fiction.
This one immediately caught my eye as it is set in Edinburgh, a city that is close to my heart since I studied abroad there. I'd love to go back to Scotland. One of my favorite things I did in the city was a tour of the Mary King's Close. How crazy is it to think that while you're walking the streets of Edinburgh, there is a whole city beneath it, the city of many centuries ago, that they just bricked up and built over? To get to go down and see a bit of that history, hear the stories, and (fingers crossed!) see a ghost is just everything.
This story centers around Hannah, a new tour guide at the Henderson Close. But strange and spooky things begin happening to her and her coworkers and there's no other way to explain them: they are being haunted.
I really loved the beginning of the book: there is a great historical element with a short prologue that sets up one of the main stories that they talk about on their tours, and the description of the tour and the ghost stories really delivered me to the setting.
Once the book gets about halfway, I started feeling overwhelmed with how many different elements were at play. There are multiple different ghosts with different agendas, there is some time travel weirdness that I didn't feel was fully explained (and played by different rules for different characters), there's a demon creature, many different perspectives telling the story, and multiple time periods, settings, and character arcs. It all began to feel a bit jumbled and just too much.
There is one chapter featuring a little boy and the girl ghost so far out of time and place with the rest of the book I completely forgot it until it slotted into place toward the end of the book, and it just felt so obvious that the chapter had been written specifically to create that moment. It just felt so manufactured and out of place. There was just so much going on that I felt the narrative could have been parred down into something more streamlined.
Overall though, it was a fairly interesting ghost story, and I did like the way it all wrapped up. I'm always on the lookout for good haunted tales!
My thanks to Flame Tree Press for sending an advance copy of this one to read and review.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.