book review

The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan

 I read and reviewed this book back in August 2018 but then I took my break so I didn’t get a chance to publish it until now.


Title: The Dead House

Author: Billy O’ Callaghan

Pages: 203

Publisher: Arcade/ Skyhorse Publishing

Publication Date: May 1, 2018 (North America)

Genre: Horror

Rating: 3/5

This best-selling debut by an award-winning writer is both an eerie contemporary ghost story and a dread-inducing psychological thriller. Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out an Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go.

Ireland is a country haunted by its past. In Billy O’Callaghan’s hands, its terrible beauty becomes a force of inescapable horror that reaches far back in time, before the Famine, before Christianity, to a pagan place where nature and superstition are bound in an endless knot.


I went into this book thinking that it was going to be about Maggie since that’s who the blurb centers around. Instead, this book is about her close friend Mike. The whole book is told from his perspective and Maggie is actually in the book for maybe 10-15%. It might be even less than that. This book is still good but I really don’t like when the blurbs are so misleading.

The parts of the story that were the character/characters were dealing with the ghost were very spooky. Especially the part with the Ouija board. That part was so good and everything that I wanted this story to be. I wish this book would have had more of the scary stuff and less of the stuff about Mike and his future wife. I feel like the balance of the two things was off and for this book to be classified as a horror it should have leaned the opposite way.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the setting. I absolutely want to visit Ireland one day and I loved all the descriptions of the places. Another thing I really liked about this book was the ending. I feel like it wrapped everything up nicely and connected the different parts of the book up to make the whole story cohesive. I definitely would have rated this book higher if there are been more of a ghost story involved and not so much romance. Or perhaps if I hadn’t gone into the book expecting it to be a ghost story I may have had different expectations.



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