Select one of the keywords
The House at Midnight    by Lucie Whitehouse order for
House at Midnight
by Lucie Whitehouse
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In The House at Midnight, an atmospheric mix of psychological suspense and horror, Lucie Whitehouse introduces readers to a small group of friends, who have been close since their university days, and are now deeply affected by the atmosphere of a southern Oxfordshire mansion inherited by one of them, and filled with objets d'art.

Quiet, kind - and increasingly needy - Lucas inherited the Stoneborough estate from his beloved uncle Patrick, an art dealer who inexplicably committed suicide only a few months after the death of Lucas's mother from cancer. His friends join him there regularly on week-end retreats. Lucas is attracted to Joanna. Flashy, self-confident Danny has been Lucas's friend since their school days. Feminist Martha is Joanna's flatmate, and tells her she's too hard on Danny. Rachel brings along her new and good-looking boyfriend Greg. Gay Michael is a workaholic, who has just been dumped by his boyfriend and come out to his parents (who didn't take it well).

The narrator, Joanna, who works as a journalist, has long considered Lucas her best friend, but now their relationship takes a new turn. As the group spends week-ends together, the tension that has always existed between Danny and Joanna grows into outright hostility - especially after Lucas and Danny give up their flats in town and move into the mansion full time. Then Jo does something that turns the others against her, bars her from their week-ends together, and generates regular harrassing phone calls from a drunken Lucas. Though Jo seeks solace in her usual comfort reading (American crime novels) she finds 'each plot disappearing from my head as soon as I finished it, all becoming part of some great churning morass of bodies and damaged detectives and wasted lives.'

Reading the novel, and taking in the author's revelations of what happened in and around Stoneborough in the past, one begins to get a sense of déja vu about modern events - which devolve into sexual obsession, alcoholism and violence. Those who enjoy psychological thrillers edged in horror and with building suspense should dive in to The House at Midnight.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews