The House Of Little Bones: Beverley Little
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Good grief can Beverley ever write.
Have you read her work yet? No? Get on it! Yes, you have, well then you know what I’m talking about.
Personally, I’ve only managed to read the first book in her Gabriel Davenport series and some of her short stories, but each time her command of the story and the writing leaps off the page, forcing you to be dragged against your will into these lush, dark, brutal worlds.
But ‘The House of Little Bones’ promised to be something darker, something more intense and part of that was the set-up going in of it being a novella. Lee mentioned previously that this had been a novel that wasn’t working, so she cut the extra, cut the unnecessary and having now finished the book, I believe she made the right call.
What I liked: The story follows international best-selling author, David who has just seen his world and career crumble. He is the stable author for his childhood friend, Charles’ publishing empire, but had secretly been dating Charles’ 19-year-old son, Luca. When the tabloids out them, David – on the advice of his agent and Charles’ – leaves London to hunker down in a remote house to write his next book and lie low.
Lee does a sublime job of playing emotional tug of war between the characters but also the reader. And, as we see, in the classic horror story fashion, time and time again ‘things’ occur which should have David running from the house. But in this case, Lee plays it well by making David a sceptic and having him believe somebody is messing with him. Maybe it’s Charles trying to inspire him? Maybe it’s Luca, scorned and wanting to unnerve him? No matter the case, as the story unfolds, things stack up that should have any normal person burning the house to the ground and never looking back.
We also get a really great flashback to the events that unfolded at the end of David and Luca’s relationship and really gives us a wallop. I loved seeing that they were truly in love, but the events played out exactly as I expected they would.
Lastly, Lee utilizes her trademarked atmosphere to really make this ooze with uncertainty. As each chapter snaps by, it grows darker and edges in closer, making for a chaotic, claustrophobic finale.
What I didn’t like: Three things here, which I think might have been extrapolated on when it was a long read. The first was the ending with David. Not 100% we really get closure. I was expecting a jarring event and instead, it read more like a chapter ending. I flipped back and forth a few times to make sure I hadn’t missed something. The second was the folklore end piece. I wasn’t too sure if it works as a complete ending to share the why. It’s tough to really discuss for fear of spoilers, but I think it might’ve been more impactful for this specific reader if it had been interspersed leading up to the climactic ending.
Lastly, we are told exactly why Luca and Charles have a strained relationship early on, but I feel like we could’ve used a bit more about them over the course of time. At times I felt Luca was 12 or 13, not 19, and it just felt odd that a father would treat his son so poorly.
Why you should buy this: Beverley Lee has written a jaw-dropping, exhilarating, pedal-to-the-metal novella. The last time I read a novella like this that had me desperately needing to know more was ‘Dear Laura’ by Gemma Amor. This was really well done and easily a must-read for everyone.
The House Of Little Bones
He thought he was untouchable.
David Lansdown, esteemed British horror writer and supernatural sceptic, is used to basking in the glow of the press…
Until a hastily snapped photo hits the headlines and makes his affair with his publisher’s son public.
When David finds himself at Bone Hollow, a house with a glass wall overlooking a wild and desolate moor, his only concern is writing his next best seller to bury his misdeeds in the past.
But something stirs beneath the earth. Something bound to the land. Something determined to take everything from him.
Luca Fox-Waite is still in love with the man who cast him aside, but his own childhood demons lurk in his shadow. As he discovers more about Bone Hollow’s history, he finds himself ensnared in its story—a story steeped in time and tragedy.
Because curses lie in bones, and they do not die.
The House of Little Bones is a tale of avarice, adoration, and of how the sins of the past cling to the living as well as the dead.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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