The Haunting of Gillespie House (Book Review)
by Darcy Coates
3 / 5 Stars
If you like old mansions, hauntings that are creepy but not disturbing, and a nice twist, this is a fun short novel.
I bought The Haunting of Gillespie House for .99 cents on a BookBub deal. One of my friend’s last names was Gillespie, so I sent her a screenshot with a laughing emoji. We then decided to read the book at the same time.
The story follows Elle as she house-sits in an old Gothic mansion. Of course, there is a locked room, a creepy attic, a graveyard, and a mausoleum with a bar across the doors. Strange noises abound, and Elle is drawn into a mystery sparked by odd dreams. The novel starts slowly but builds to an interesting peak that balances mystery with action. Sometimes in horror the characters stay in the haunted house (or whatever) for far longer than any average person would, but I didn't think Elle made any irrational decisions. Every time she was scared of something, a rational reason for it was given. I would never wander around a creepy-ass house alone in the dark or take a gander through an attic full of cloth-covered furniture, but Elle is braver than me, I suppose.
While likely not scary enough for veterans of the genre, this novel had enough creepiness (and a couple of good “jump scares”) to satisfy me. Elle herself was a likeable character, albeit a bit flat. We get the bare minimum about her, but this allows her to be more of a vehicle for the reader to ride out the mystery than a character study. I didn’t mind that she lacked depth.
The twist of the story did catch me off guard. The novel does a good job misdirecting you towards the scratching of the walls and who/what is haunting the place. The prose is solid, as it’s easy to understand and flows with lots of tension and an active voice. I could have used more backstory on the main villain, though. The novel was a bit too short.
Yet, I would read another Darcy Coates if it popped up on Bookbub.
I enjoyed this exchange:
"A frying egg popped and spat hot oil at my exposed forearm. I glowered at it and used my spatula to squash the yolk, spillings its golden contents out like blood. “That’ll teach you".”
And a bonus point to the novel for calling out the assumption that the office was the husband's and not Mrs. Gillespie's. I noticed that presumption on Elle’s part was a little dated, and it made me smile to have it contradicted.