cover image House of Doors

House of Doors

Chaz Brenchley. Severn House, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8089-5

Freshly widowed and raw with grief in the middle of the London blitz, nurse Ruth Taylor would prefer reassignment to a foreign land, where she hopes to meet a bullet with her name on it. Instead she accepts a post at RAF Morwood, an ugly, isolated country estate once known as D’Espérance. Here, pilots who have suffered disfiguring burns and crippling injuries receive the newest and boldest medical treatment, and the cold, sinister Major Black prepares them for dark, dangerous tasks. Ruth arrives with trepidation and with the literal ghost of her late husband on her heels, and soon the spirit poses a danger not just to her but to everyone at Morwood. Brenchley (River of the World) clearly knows the language and motifs of gothic country-house horror; despite occasionally labored prose and an odd overfondness for the word “brutal,” he turns genre conventions to his advantage with genuinely disturbing moments of terror and his complex, deeply troubled heroine. (Feb.)