Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ghost story for adults: The House of Lost Souls

Several things attracted me to The House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam. Its story spans from the the 1920s to the 1990s, partially centers around a beautiful flapper photographer, and involves a malevolently haunted house in the British Isles. So, creepy tales from the past, a mysterious woman, and a scary house full of secrets. Check! and I'm in.

In the 1980s, Paul helps his new girlfriend with her dissertation by researching Pandora Gibson-Hoare, an edgy fashion photographer of the 1920s who ran with a rich and decadent crowd. Ten years after her career peaked, she ended her life seemingly destitute, her body discovered in a scummy river. Paul sneakily procures her journal from an attic trunk and soon, learning more about Pandora becomes an obsession, leading him into a house of incredible evil and black magic from which he barely escapes.

Twelve years later, he has remade his life as best he can, when he learns that four college students and their professor have entered the house, with one girl already a suicide and the others mad and apparently headed in the same direction. A call from an old acquaintance encourages him to help those women and their families. And his haunting begins again, with music wafting from his aged and unplugged cassette player...

This is horror with a slow build and a careful back story, without a lot of gore and with some extremely shivery moments. I enjoyed Cottam's mentions of real people such as Aleister Crowley, Nick Drake and Sandy Denny from the band Fairport Convention. It was pleasant for me to do a little back up reading on each of these people, and learn how Cottam uses them to enrich his fiction.
If you like a subtle scare, give it a try!

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Guinan 1990?-2009

Griffin ?-2010