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Billy O'Callaghan

Teoksen The Dead House tekijä

17 teosta 251 jäsentä 17 arvostelua

Tekijän teokset

The Dead House (2017) 126 kappaletta, 11 arvostelua
My Coney Island Baby (2019) 63 kappaletta, 5 arvostelua
Life Sentences (2021) 23 kappaletta
The Boatman and Other Stories (2020) 17 kappaletta
Life Sentences (2022) 3 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
The Paper Man (2023) 2 kappaletta
In Exile: Short Stories (2008) 1 kappale
Owed To Plants 1 kappale

Merkitty avainsanalla


20th century
Maa (karttaa varten)
Cork, Ireland



Good book. Very creepy in a haunting sort of way.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
everettroberts | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 20, 2023 |
Atmospheric and eerie, “The Dead House” is a slow-burn that relies heavily on setting to instill an unsettled feeling in the reader. This is a beautifully written and, at times, introspective and poignant novel about a tainted cliffside home and the woman who falls in love with it. Tortured artist Maggie needs to escape her day-to-day; is in search of solitude to reconnect with her art and resume painting. When she invites two friends (one of which is her art dealer who has helped bank roll the purchase of said home) to see the progress on her rehab, things take a spooky twist.

From that visit forward, the friends don’t visit at much as they should or call to check in on Maggie, too caught up in their own blossoming romance to be concerned with someone who seems to want privacy. But, upon a later visit, it becomes clear that something terrible has happened. The home, and Maggie, are in a state of disrepair. Has Maggie taken to drugs? Psychosis? Or is there something in the home with her?

Shortly thereafter, a last visit reveals the final mystery. I will be careful not to give too much away here, because it was the “What happened at the house and to Maggie,” question that got me through to the end of what was thankfully a rather short read. A bit short on excitement and substance, this is a book to savor rather than a page-turner. If I’m honest, this is not a “horror” book as claimed. It’s a supernatural mystery, at best, and I can’t help wonder how much more intriguing the book might’ve been had the story been told from Maggie’s point of view rather than from the outside looking in. What happened at “The Dead House?” Sadly, the reader never really gets to know.
… (lisätietoja)
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bfrisch | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 9, 2022 |
From the viewpoint of three individuals from three generations of an Irish family, this book is all about love: a brother's love for a sister; a mother's love for her children, and a daughter's love for her father. The first chapter focuses on Jer, whose sister, Mamie, just died as the result of a violent husband. Jer wants to kill his brother-in-law, but friends lock him up in jail for the night before the funeral. As children of an unwed mother, Nancy, Mamie was like a mother to Jer. Jer's life has been hard and becomes even worse as a soldier in WWI where he witnesses so much violence, but Jer has married a good woman and is the father to several.

The second section tells the story of Nancy, a young girl who survives the famine on an island outside Cork. She goes to Cork and finds work at a woman's house, but is seduced by an older gardener. When she becomes pregnant with Mamie, she is let go, and Michael Egan, the father, basically abandons her as he is already married. Later becomes once more involved with Michael, she gives birth to Jer. She survives the workhouse, and life on the street but manages to live to see her children married - Mamie to a violent man, and Jer to a loving woman.

The third section is told my Nellie, Jer's youngest daughter as she is lying on her death bed surrounded by her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. Nellie recalls the death of her first son and the burial during the night because the child was born before the nine months after the wedding.

This is truly a moving story of survival and family dedication to one another during the worst of situations. All three characters wrestle with their place in the world and with a God that may or may not be there. Absolutely loved this book - short, not one word is wasted.2022
… (lisätietoja)
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maryreinert | Aug 19, 2022 |
Billy O'Callaghan’s debut novella is literary horror in the vein of Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House set on the windswept shores of his native County Cork, where history is “a stew of fact and fable”. It is not the jump-in-your-seat horror that we have come to expect from movies but a slow-moving sense of dread that haunts your dreams and stays with you long after you have set it down. This kind of horror comes in large part from a deep drilldown into the hearts and minds of the story’s characters combined with a mysterious setting, something this prize-winning shanachie has nailed, deftly pulling the reader across oceans to a cottage on the shores of the Atlantic. “Here the world had simplified itself down to rocks, ocean, sky, wind and rain; these because everything else was fleeting, and you felt overwhelmed by such a sense of permanence all around, by the realisation that what you could see in any one moment and in any direction had always existed and always would. Holy men built monasteries in places like this, trying to capture part of the alchemy that coaxed time into standing still.”

O'Callaghan’s tale is woven throughout with strands of Irish gods, Irish legends, and Irish history, but in essence, it is a ghost story and he uses his mastery of the storyteller’s art from the start to pull us out of our comfort zones by posing a simple question at the outset.

”Do you believe in Ghosts?

“Because that’s really where it begins, with belief. We glimpse or experience something that defies explanation and we either accept the stretch in our reality or we choose to turn our heads away. It’s a question that torments even philosophers: Do you believe? There is little about life as we have come to know it that can’t be explained away on some basic scientific level. Yet when the wind howls, and we find ourselves alone with only the yellow pool of a guttering candle to hold back the darkness, our instinct, perhaps our innate need for something above and beyond, still screams otherwise.”

If this book has a flaw, it is one that is common for short story authors making the switch to novels. At times it seems as if there is not enough happening to justify the additional word count. It also seems to lack some of the resolution that readers of novels have come to expect. In the end, though, I see a lot of promise in this author’s work and look forward to reading more of his books.

*Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star – The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
… (lisätietoja)
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Unkletom | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 22, 2021 |



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