This spooky domestic drama has a tense, unsettling atmosphere. It reminded me a little of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and also The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
The story follows Kate, a solicitor who has had some kind of breakdown. She has moved to a large decaying old house with her twin children and her husband. Mrs Havers, the previous occupant, is hiding something. There are ghostly noises, shadows and doors which lock themselves in this house but everyone tries to pretend that there are ordinary explanations. The story is just as much about the difficult marriage and fighting over the children’s welfare than the spooky goings-on. I found it an interesting blend.
Told from Kate’s perspective, the writing style takes some getting used to. It’s not difficult to read, but the sentences tend to run on together without enough full stops. There is just enough description to give a sense of place and to suggest what the characters look like. The mental health angle is well presented. It’s not specified what Kate’s issues are, but it seems that she suffers from anxiety, depression and maybe psychosis. There is also the suggestion that her opinions are not taken seriously by anyone because of her illnesses and the fact that she is a woman.
I wasn’t entirely convinced by the ending. It was suitably frightening but seemed a simplistic solution to the family’s troubles.
In summary, I enjoyed reading Haverscroft and was impressed that it’s a debut novel.
First published by Salt in 2019. This edition had some annoying typos.