Sunday 29 June 2014

Recommendation: The Unquiet House by Alison Littlewood

The Unquiet House
I love haunted houses, me. I love Hill House, I love Hell House, I love The House Next Door and the House Of Leaves.

And now I think I love Mire House, too.

For Alison Littlewood's new(ish) novel is a haunted house novel to rank with all the above; where the house is not just a home for spooky beings, but a corruption of all a house should actually be; an archetypal 'bad place'; a mirror of its inhabitant's hopes and fears; a trap.

The Unquiet House is told in four interlocking sections, starting in the present day and then working back to the 1973, then to 1939, before finally coming back to 2013 - it almost reads like three self-contained novellas about a different generation's experiences at Mire House. But the historical parts of the novel provide a rich and plausible justification for the terrors in the present, and at the end Mire House is left still standing, still unquiet (still "not sane" as Shirley Jackson would no doubt have it) and still occupied by... something. And there's a strong suggestion that all is not over, and that another generation is about to be trapped and consumed by the horrors of the past.

I love haunted houses, me.

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