Book Review: The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

Title: The Haunting of Henderson Close

Author: Catherine Cavendish

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Publication Date: January 10, 2019

Genres: Horror

Shelves: Female-author, female-fronted

Ghost stories are one of the oldest – and most powerful – forms of storytelling. No matter how much of an unbeliever you might be in the daylight, a well-told tale under the darkness of a stormy night can unsettle anyone. I spent two seasons telling ghost stories for a living, and I watched entire audiences jump at the simple, well-timed stomp of a boot in a darkened gazebo on the edge of the lake.

And that, boys and ghouls, is where The Haunting of Henderson Close begins – a few steps below ground, in the haunted ruins of a street in Edinburgh, with a group of costumed tour guides. It begins simply, with strange noises, odd smells, and figures glimpsed out of the corner of an eye. Catherine Cavendish creates so much atmosphere here, it’s almost a shame when the story takes a left-turn into weird time-slips, but the way the story continues to build on that is extraordinary.

There are multiple stories interwoven here, past, present, and in between. Where the story clutched me in its cold, dead talons was with the disappearance of one of the guides, the discovery that her home has been abandoned for years, and the revelation that her mother is long-since dead. Where those talons began to squeeze tight, drawing hot, red blood, was with the dismantling of a wall deep within the Close and the uncovering of a spoiled, broken, faded pentagram on the other side.

The Haunting of Henderson Close is more than just a ghost story, it is the story of a battle against an ancient, implacable evil. There are monsters here, and they are never far from the immediacy of the moment. What makes all that come alive, however, is the depth of the characters and the strength of the bonds between them that build alongside the story. There was a swath of story where I questioned the direction, where I might have given up on another author, but I’ve read enough of Cavendish’s work to trust in her instincts . . . and it more than pays off, with a shockingly powerful climax.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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