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House of Ash is the perfect addition to your Halloween reading list

"Talking skeletons and flames that burned from nothing and beautiful girls who appeared in mirrors..."


United By Pop received a free copy of House of Ash in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own. This post may contain affiliate links.

Title: House of Ash

Author: Hope Cook

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 3/5

Great for: Fans of Alexandra Bracken, Tim Byrne and Emma Dyer, and Elizabeth Wein

Themes: Young adult, historical fiction, supernatural and romance

Review: 

It was an airless kind of fall day, a moment caught in the breath between seasons where the whole world turned sepia, unwilling to take that final gasp into the bleak grey of November.

This was another perfectly autumnal read I had been saving for the increasingly dark evenings. The haunting atmosphere this creates, the physical look of the book, and the events that play out inside it all combined to make this the ideal addition to my October reading list.

This is a split-protagonist and split-time period plot, with events playing out between modern-day Curtis and Mila in 1894. Curtis fears he has inherited his father’s mental illness, after hearing unexplained noises and viewing unimaginable sights. His search for answers leads him to Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. There, he discovers the image of a girl, locked inside a mirror’s reflection and pleading with him to set her free. But will saving her also be the end to his own troubles that are plaguing him? And how can his present-day actions impact an event that occurred over 100 years ago?

I was hooked from the very first page, before I knew a thing about the storyline, due to the beautiful quality of storytelling alone. ‘House of Ash’ is built upon a lyrical penmanship that expertly transported me to the Victorian period. I was bonded with Mila and her past plights before I ever learned how her story would come to develop.

Curtis’ intrusion was, at first unwanted, as I was eager to continue exploring Mila’s storyline but I adored when the two intermingled to reveal a horrifying and disturbing ensuing narrative. The present interacting with the past was an interesting element that opened many political and societal points of discussions. I am not the biggest fan of romantic encounters taking central precedence in fantasy plots, but this also added a large degree of other points of interaction that sold me on its inclusion.

Haunted houses are a staple ingredient in most supernatural tales and this one was no different. It used the perhaps overused trope, yet freshly re-awoke the spooky atmosphere it invokes and left me dreading returning to this setting as the evenings darkened and the shadows lengthened. This evoked a sense of Gothic eeriness rather than horror’s chill terror, which actually proved more spooky as the plot wore on. It was more a fear of what might happen rather than what actually did.

This was both a pleasantly fun read, as well as a thrilling supernatural story and manages to get the balance of the two just right. The ending possibly opened up more questions than it answered but that proved to only add to my intrigue and affinity with the story and my overall feelings of suspense.