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House of Spines

Published Date: 9th March 2017

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EBook
978-1-910633-87-8
£5.99
15 September 2017
Paperback
978-1-910633-86-1
£8.99
15 September 2017

Description

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up.  Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

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‘From the stunning opening chapter, I was hooked. ‘House of Spines’ is an intriguing tale with a haunting, Gothic quality that compels you to keep reading till the end.’ Howard Linskey

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House of Spines is a deliciously dark tale about the things that haunt us. Unexpected and beautiful, the novel has all the gothic elements of classics like Rebecca, and the all the poetry and page-turning trickery you’d expect from Michael Malone. Wonderful. Cannot recommend enough.’ Louise Beech

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‘Lonely writer Ran inherits a vast mansion in House of Spines by Michael J Malone. At first it seems like a poet’s paradise, but something sinister lurks within the corridors. It’s out now.’ House of Spines is selected as a MUST READ in The Daily Express.

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Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Online Reviews

‘This story had a mixture of pacing which kept me intrigued; it was a nice balance of smooth, subtle, and savory without feeling the story was stalling out … Highly recommended to fans of gothic crime novels; if you are looking to mix up things by reading something with a contemporary setting, please give this one a go! Another highly entertaining story from an immensely talented author; I know I’ll be waiting on pins and needles for his next work.’ The Suspense is Thrilling Me

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‘Malone invites the reader into his little shop of horrors and let’s them wrestle with the question of whether the nightmare is real or just the meanderings of a sick man. House of Spines may have a gothic feel to it, but it also has the interesting aura of a Hammer Horror. Some readers might not remember Hammer, however they were renowned for evoking an eerie and haunting sense of horror. The kind of hair on the back of your neck creepy you never quite forget. The house will drag you in and may not let you go again, well at least not until she gets what she wants.’ Cheryll M-M Book Blog

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‘A gothic, cold shiver inducing ghosty tale, murder mystery, psychological thriller, contemporary and historical drama all rolled into one book and slowly unravelled with tantalising glimpses from one to the other … The library is fully appreciated by Ranald   throughout the book and he continued to find solace from the books he reads despite his unraveling state of mind. I found this aspect a very touching but insightful observation by the author into the mind of someone suffering from mental health issues. A beguiling and engrossing read that kept me bewitched until the very end.’ Mrs Bloggs Books

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House of Spines is a slow, claustrophobic, and disturbing fall I couldn’t help but enjoy with every fiber of my being. Although the story differed strongly from what I was expecting, the writing felt safe. It was actually the only thing I felt safe with the book! Beautiful, like a string of fascinating words given new a meaning when put together. Skilled, like the sharp blade of a razor. Riveting, like a obsessive puzzle with missing pieces. Once I had started, I just couldn’t stop reading … House of Spines is a masterfully written play giving “scary” his strongest and yet most natural face.’ Chocolate N Waffles

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‘Michael J. Malone has created a beautifully layered story, filled with strong characters, not least of which is Newton Hall which becomes a character in and of itself in the book – with creepy corridors, an ancient lift and long-forgotten rooms and a housekeeper/gardener couple who seem to have become part of the very fabric of the house … Fantastic characters, a gloriously mysterious house and a delightfully twisty plot. Highly recommended.’ Espresso Coco

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‘It is a dark thriller with a gothic slant that is at times creepy and  has an unreliable narrator. I like these types of novels a lot, and I imagine that they are difficult to write – this book does not disappoint … It had an unsettling ending that left me very uneasy. I sometimes wish the reader could know what happens after the last page has been turned. House of Spines is one of the better novels of this type that I have read this year.’ Steph’s Book Blog

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Michael talks about enduring resilience as part of the blog tour. Shots Mag

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‘Michael J Malone is definitely a writer of imagery, extremely visual and to the point that I can hear the sounds that live in this place. At times horrific and at others tender as each chapter begins I didn’t know which it would be. One thing was for sure this mansion held secrets that needed to be told………… one way or another. An extraordinary story with a magical gothic setting in today’s reality. An outstanding supernatural and psychological master piece. Just Wow!’ Books From Dusk Till Dawn

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‘This was my first, and my mind is absolutely blown how brilliant this book is, and how superbly it is written. The depth of the characters, the plot, and the content of this book are so creative, that you just get pulled in. I couldn’t stop with this one, I finished it in under 24 hours. Real life was put on pause for a bit … pick up this gem, you won’t regret it, and you may even thank me for telling you to do it. And that cover!!!! All those topics wrapped up in one beautiful creeptastic package. I look forward to reading it again.’ The Pages In Between

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House of Spines was a totally different novel to what I expected – I was expecting a conventional psychological thriller that followed the usual path but this book certainly was not that! It is a psychological thriller but I felt it had a really heavy, dark, twisted, gothic romance element to it … This novel rocked the gothic vibe very well, a bit too much of a romantic element but the supernatural element was much appreciated, and as mentioned above – the ending was amazing, in the most twisted and shocking way! If you’re a fan of modern gothic novels, give House of Spines a read.’ Keeper of Pages 

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‘What a wonderful creepy psychological thriller this book is! This book was another one of those sitting in the same spot for hours on end because I just couldn’t seem to put it down. This book is a fantastic Gothic novel that on several occasions definitely had me looking over my shoulder. It was a gripping read from start to finish, and it constantly kept me guessing (and terrified.) … House of Spines really is a fantastic read. It keeps you hooked from the get go, and definitely makes you question what you know is real. The detail in the book is beautiful and I am going to be recommending this book to everyone I know.’ The Bibliophile Chronicles

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‘Malone has crafted a rich and vivid world in HOUSE OF SPINES. Every element of this story, from Ranald’s family history to the mansion he inherits to the cast of characters he interacts with, is well-developed and intentionally plotted – resulting in genuinely shocking and satisfying plot twists and sustained suspense from the book’s first page to its last. HOUSE OF SPINES has layers upon layers of intrigue, and I loved my time spent peeling back each and every one. Publisher Orenda Books has a knack for finding unique and unusual crime fiction, and they have found an absolutely superb addition to any crime reader’s library in Michael J. Malone’s HOUSE OF SPINES.’ Crime By The Book

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‘The plot builds up gradually, immersing the reader in Ran’s daily life as he explores his surroundings and meets some of the locals. It’s creepy and unsettling, with a unreliable protagonist – in fact a whole host of unreliable characters. I worked out some things, but not everything, and there were plenty of surprises to come. For me, this was less of a ‘psychological thriller’ than a great gothic mystery of a man’s descent into mania and a family steeped in secrets and lies. Highly recommended if you like creepy spine-tingling twisty tales.’ Off The Shelf Books

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House of Spines is like a gothic “ghost” story of old, beautifully written, beautifully plotted, intensely creepy practically straight from the start – themes of mental health and personality  with a gorgeous hit of modern unreliable narrator, all wrapped up in a bow and delivered to the reader with class and style … Utterly absorbing, never less than eerily fascinating, House Of Spines hits the sweet spot in terms of both storytelling and emotional resonance – and with the added bookish theme, it really is a perfect storm.’ Liz Loves Books

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‘This is a frightening story where as the story progresses the reader starts doubting of their own sanity, because ghosts don’t exist, do they? This book was a reading pleasure … With some original twists and a very intricate family history; Michael J. Malone has created a hunting psychological thriller with so many interesting characters that you will ask for more! Do you know the real truth about your family past?’ Varietats

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‘What I loved about this book, apart from the genre bending aspect,  is the many different levels it operates on and how they all combine together to tell a story that has many facets and unusually, plausibly different outcomes … The result is a living, breathing, contemporary gothic novel where the horror completely takes root in the reader’s mind and the cold shiver that runs down the reader’s spine is exactly what is driving Ranald to despair … Michael Malone who has a way of telling a story that just leaves you more than a little disturbed yet breathless with admiration.’ Live and Deadly

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‘The author has written a novel that is both captivating yet horrifying, it’s dark with a constant sense of malevolence bubbling away under the surface, with elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom running through this novel it has a very gothic feel to it, which only adds weight to this very creepy read. House Of Spines is an very original psychological thriller and one I would urge anyone and everyone to read just because it’s such a powerful and beautifully haunting novel.’ The Book Review Café

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‘Gothic horror stories are always welcome here at This Is Horror, and House of Spines ticks all the boxes for a dark, brooding psychological journey into tension and terror. A poet, a crumbling house, ghostly happenings–all add up to make House of Spines an intriguing proposition.’ This is Horror

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‘The gothic elements of the tale are masterfully written; Newton Hall a fabulous creation. Ran’s reluctance to face up to his illness, his disavowal of the management strategies prescribed by professionals, added an interesting layer to the more usual fear of the dark, shadows behind curtains and monsters under the bed tropes of haunted houses … This is an enjoyable read even if I did find the structuring of the conclusion weaker than the beginning and middle sections. I am, however, left pondering what will happen to Ran next, if perhaps this is a circular tale.’ Never Imitate

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‘Delivering another atmospheric masterpiece, Malone brings us the story of Ran McGhie, a troubled soul who unexpectedly inherits his estranged great-uncle’s mansion, Newton Hall … Once again, Malone had me hooked from the first page to the last in this exquisitely woven story of the past meeting the present.’ Emma the Little Bookworm

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House of Spines – is all about something altogether innocent tinged with family roots full of betrayal mixed with a horrendous and fatal past event which still holds on tightly to the present day … Sinister, with lurking goosebumps a plenty, I found The House of Spines an easy read that I sprinted through – just because it’s so darn good – with page after page bringing a magnetic welcoming.’ Page Turners Nook

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‘MJM has crafted a brilliant and haunting tale that explores themes like mental health disorders, family, grief, success and failure. Malone always amazes me with his command of the human condition … Malone likes to explore modern misconceptions and misunderstandings in an open, truthful and relatable fashion. In A Suitable Lie it was abuse, in House of Spines it is mental health and the severity of an unchecked condition. I highly recommend House Of Spines; Michael J. Malone is quickly making his way up my list of favourite authors and I can’t wait till his next novel.’ Always Trust in Books

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House of Spines is one of those books that utterly consumes your day, eats up your time and seeps into your bones, rattling your mind and jarring your nerves. A gothic tale that is equally haunting and frightening. I loved it! And I think this book will be lingering in my mind for a long time to come … With some very dark, brutal themes, House of Spines, is a novel that explores the good and the bad in people, and I think is a little bit of an homage to the written word too.’ Ronnie Turner

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‘Michael J Malone took me on a journey, he filled my head with the unimaginable and made it come alive. I’ve never read a book like House Of Spines before, this is a unique story that not only gives you beautiful descriptions of Newton Hall it gives you a sense of fear as well. Full of tension, with each page the author weaves a spell over the reader and I have to say this was an outstanding read.’ It’s All About the Books

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‘There aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe how much I loved the ending. It was absolutely NOT what I was expecting to happen at all! What a way to wrap up a book! It was pure perfection. To put it simply, Michael J. Malone has found a brand new fan in me. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, because HOUSE OF SPINES was an amazing read. If you haven’t read it yet, trust me when I say you should. You won’t be sorry!’ The Geeky Bibiophile

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‘The two elements complement each other well and the author does a good job of building the tension as the story unfolds. The characterisation is spot on too, I certainly warmed to Ran who cuts a fragile and tragic figure, while some of the antagonists – two in particular – are shocking in the lengths they’ll go to get what they want. But really, it’s Newton Hall itself which steals the show, the property itself taking on a life of its own and making its presence felt on every page. This result is a creepy and atmospheric tale.’ The Crime Novel Reader

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‘I can honestly say this is the most perplexing story I have read in a long time, possibly ever. It only works because it is exceedingly well-written, if this were attempted by someone less talented it would be nonsense but in Michael Malone’s hands it is a story which seeps into you every time you pick up the book … I already knew how good a storyteller Michael Malone is because I read and reviewed A Suitable Lie last year but this has surpassed even that and I can’t wait to see what he produces next.’

Book Lover Worm Blog

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‘Cleverly written to be either a ghost story or one man’s struggle with mental health, House of Spines is another exceptional book from Michael J. Malone.  I read most of it with goosebumps on my arms and the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, as I loved the ghostly gothic feel.  House of Spines is a spine-tingling multi-genre novel that absolutely anyone and everyone will enjoy; it’s a psychological thriller mixed with a gothic horror and I loved every single page of it.’ The Book Magnet

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‘This has all the hallmarks of a great read, it’s creepy and leaves the reader questioning whether that was just a shadow they caught out of the corner of their eye…but it also makes you feel a little uncomfortable as you slowly follow Ran into the darkness of uncertainty … I could feel the looming menace that lurked within the house, I was aware of a feeling of claustrophobia while Ran was in the house, although there was splendour and beauty it was also a place of unknown danger and mystery … With writing that is almost poetic in nature, this is beautifully written book that keeps readers guessing throughout.’

The Quiet Knitter

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‘This was such a bewitching read that was still very much a psychological thriller but with it’s own unique spin, I’ve never read anything quite like House of Spines before. It was dark, twisty and intense with the lyrical prose that I’ve now come to expect from Malone. I highly recommend this one to anyone looking for a fresh, remarkable read!’ Novel Gossip

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‘As I read quite a lot it is quite hard to surprise me nowadays and I always really enjoy it when someone manages to! This is the first book of Michael Malone that I have read but it won’t be my last.  In fact I have already downloaded a copy of his first book A Suitable Lie to read. This is definitely going to be one of those books that I will be recommending to everyone for a long time.’

Over the Rainbow book blog

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‘This novel has it all mysterious characters, hazy images of ghosts, greed, lust, love, loss and heartache. This is not just a novel about mental health or a dysfunctional family. Ever tiny little twist or piece of new information, is cleverly linked to Ran. I would love to see this novel developed into a two-part TV series or a film. As it would certainly keep the viewer guessing. But then as a novel, it has some of most beautiful descriptions. I shall leave this review, with my absolute favourite, even if it is a little dark.’ Anne Bonny Book Reviews

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‘I loved the dark imagery and the ominous feel. This is not the typical psychological thriller that one would be expecting: the pacing is pretty slow. However, I absolutely loved the unreliable narrator in Ran and the simplicity of a classic ghost story. Truly, I believe this to be the perfect book to curl up with on a cool, autumn night. It won’t just be the breeze that would send shivers down your spine!’ Clues and Reviews

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‘I loved the creepiness of Malone’s writing.  He really knows how to make his reader feel uneasy which I think is a great skill.  The prose was so wonderfully poetic in places that I became entranced and totally engrossed in Ran’s story … If you haven’t picked up a Michael J. Malone book before then you MUST.  If you’re after a read that is a little different to most everything else then House of Spines may be the one for you.  It’s a dark and eerie read which had me on the edge of my seat.  It has however left me with a couple of unanswered questions.  A re-read may be in order!’ Damp Pebbles

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‘I loved Malone’s previous book, A Suitable Lie, and there are some parallels here – isolation, growing paranoia, no way out – but also great differences, most notably, as I’ve said, the way this book plays with a familiar genre and makes it new. It was a great read, and I look forward to reading what Malone does next.’ Blue Book Balloon

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‘It is a credit to Malone’s skills as a writer that he has managed to combine a current issue with a gripping psychological thriller while maintaining an otherworldly element and feel. Malone’s prose at times hit me right in the heart and you can clearly see the poet within him. House of Spines will send shivers down your spine, leave you questioning, take you by surprise and mess with your emotions. Read it, it’s fantastic and will undoubtedly be included as one of my books of 2017.’

Bloomin Brilliant Books

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‘Michael weaves a creepy and atmospheric read … This is one beautifully written story with amazing descriptions. The author pulls you in from the start and weaves one very well crafted story. That tells a story of love and betrayal and is full of mystery. For those of you that like ghost stories I highly recommend it giving it 4 stars.’ Chelle’s Book Reviews

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‘Michael J Malone just writes the most beautifully seductive prose that gives me goosebumps no matter what the subject matter. His poetic narrative mesmerized me to the extent that I felt like I had suddenly awoken from a dream (or was it a nightmare?!) when finished. In anyone else’s hands this story could have gone down a much more cliched route so it just goes to prove what a master storyteller this author is that he kept his tale believable throughout. Very disturbing at times but highly recommended by me!’ My Chestnut Tree Reading

 

House of Spines crawled inside of my head, excellent character portrayal and sense of place left me spooked, haunted and desperately sad at times as the real truth is slowly revealed layer by layer. A satisfyingly, chillingly, haunting and delightfully disturbing read, don’t miss it!’ Chapter in My Life

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‘I loved Michael Malone’s writing style. It has a fluency which seems to be effortless and he manages to paint a vivid picture in your mind of someone with a tenuous grip on reality. You learn about the characters through little details he throws in, showing a fleeting expression or a throwaway gesture. The places are vividly created and the atmosphere in Newton Hall haunts you as it does Ran. With every twist and turn, I felt more unsettled- which is precisely how the author wanted the reader to feel- totally immersed in the story.’ Books, Life and Everything

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House of Spines is a modern day take on the Gothic mystery novel. My protagonist, Ranald McGhie is a poet on his uppers, recently divorced, when he inherits a sprawling mansion from a side of the family he had no idea existed.’ Michael takes part in a Q & A as part of the blog tour. From First Page to Last

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‘It is entralling, wonderful, intense, full of suspense and twists that had my head in a spin! There were devious undertones, a mysticism that had me suspending belief – a hopelessness, a passion and a journey of discovery which had me in fear of what might be uncovered – oh yeah, this is definitely a book I would suggest everyone delve into and devour!!’ Crime Book Junkie

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HOUSE OF SPINES is creepy, chilling and definitely gave me the jeebies when reading it. This story starts out like a normal haunted house mystery, but as the book progresses, we start to learn that there is something more sinister at play … HOUSE OF SPINES is one of those books that I will be now recommending to people when they tell me they want a bit of scare. PERFECT for the Halloween season!’ The P Turners Book Blog

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‘House if Spines is an unforgettable book, Michael J. Malone’s writing is terrifying but it’s also evocative and poetic. I really enjoyed this haunting, lyrical tale with its deliciously disturbing twists and the empathetic and sympathetic mental health story. With Halloween not too far away, I recommend you give the sweets and candy to your visiting trick or treaters and guisers and treat yourself to House of Spines.Hair Past a Freckle

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‘As a Michael Malone newbie, I am suitably impressed with the skills that this author possesses, especially seeing as he kept my interest the entire way through despite not gelling with part of the storyline. Why? Because the man knows how to write, that’s why. I wouldn’t be surprised if his secret talent is selling snow to an Eskimo… Impressive, bewildering, and weirdly addictive; I am thrilled to find another author to add to my ‘read again’ pile.’ The Writing Garnet

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‘Malone writes Ran’s descent into madness very well, and it was hard not to get caught up in it at times. Suspicion and paranoia cause Ran to isolate himself further and soon isn’t sure who he can trust. When his cousins attempt to manipulate Ran into agreeing to sell the mansion that has become his home will Ran have the strength to stand up to them? I really enjoyed reading House of Spines, it’s a cleverly written book that I’m still trying to work out!’ If Only I Could Read Faster

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House Of Spines is a story that will have you hooked right from the very start. It takes you deep into one mans life and mind and has you questioning what is real. It is a journey of discovery that certainly held some surprises with some unexpected twists. Great book!’ By The Letter Book Reviews

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‘This is without doubt first class story telling from a writer who can form a storyline and characters, that are so engaging, you just don’t want your trip into the House of Spines to end … Michael Malone has given booklovers a story which will haunt them for months after they have read the last page. Bravo to this remarkably talented team.’ Books Are My Cwtches

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‘The author truly shows off his diversity and displays a remarkable talent for storytelling. This is not just your average ghost story, it’s far more than that. It’s absorbing, compelling, utterly gripping, deliciously creepy and intriguing. I’m running out of superlatives here. Suffice to say, it really just blew my mind.’ Novel Delights

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House of Spines is a compelling gothic thriller with tons of suspense thrown in. This book genuinely unsettled me and I read it with a growing sense of impending doom. It’s a a fabulous read! … his really is a beautifully touching and personal account of a man who is quite lost in life, and I found it an emotional, yet uplifting read. It is simply quite stunning. This book will stay with me for a very long time.’ Brew and Books Reviews

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House of Spines is a sexy, Gothic ghost story that balances between chilling and titillating. Set in an obscure dream home ideal for such a creepy tale it’s the perfect combination of old-fashioned ghost story and a modern thriller. Horror as well as crime fiction fans will have to prepare for more than one surprising twist. House of Spines is one of my favourite books of 2017 and the perfect read for a gloomy autumnal day.’ Devoted to Thrills

 

‘I thoroughly enjoyed House Of Spines and think it is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys mystery thrillers that have elements of the gothic. Malone has crafted a chilling tale with a sense of foreboding that had me hooked!’ The Owl on the Bookshelf

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House of Spines is a cracking read that combines a real mystery with a genuinely touching and emotionally affecting story that, at times, makes you really feel for Ranald (and others without wanting to give anything else away) and one that I thoroughly recommend.’ Mumbling About

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‘Billed as psychological thriller meets gothic, House of Spines is compulsive reading. I loved how the mystery of the house, the woman that Ran sees, the family dramas all unfolded … This is a chilling book with a thrilling ending.  I thought it was a fabulous read and proves Malone’s skill in turning his hand to different genres.’ Short Book and Scribes

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‘Michael Malone writes a captivating story. His writing is just so engaging that I didn’t want to put the book down, I was desperate to find out what was really happening. I thought House of Spines was a fabulous read and Michael Malone could well end up being mentioned in my Top Books of the year list again.’ My Reading Corner

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Reviews