cover image The House of Small Shadows

The House of Small Shadows

Adam Nevill. Minotaur, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-04127-2

Unease escalates to stark terror in Nevill’s intricately plotted, character-driven shadow show of numinous ritual and madness. London auction appraiser Catherine Howard is an unstable young woman with a tragic past of “imaginary” playmates and an abducted friend. She is summoned to the infamous Red House in the English countryside to appraise the exquisite taxidermy and doll collection of deceased artist M.H. Mason. Soon her sanity is further endangered by malevolent Edith, the artist’s deranged and manipulative niece, as Catherine becomes fascinated with grotesque panoramas of uniformed rats reenacting wars and rooms of leering handcrafted dolls. Catherine’s unstable reality is engulfed by a twisted wonderland where shadows whisper, ghostly children walk, and life feeds art. The occult is internalized in her troubled psyche, inviting a dreadful symbiosis between the paranormal and perception. Nevill (Last Days) strengthens traditional gothic atmosphere and the haunted house motif with probing literary sensibility, eschewing simplistic scares for awe and lingering ambiguity. This emotionally intense, intellectually challenging supernatural novel explores secret geographies of conscience while raising hackles, and is addictively readable. (July)