About The Book
For Sara Keane, it was supposed to be a second chance. A new country. A new house. A new beginning with her husband Damien.
Then came the knock on the door.
Elderly Mary Jackson can’t understand why Sara and her husband are living in her home. She remembers the fire, and the house burning down. But she also remembers the children. The children who need her, whom she must protect.
‘The children will find you,’ she tells Sara, because Mary knows she needs help too. Sara soon becomes obsessed with what happened in that house nearly sixty years ago – the tragic, bloody night her husband never intended for her to discover. And Mary – silent for six decades – is finally ready to tell her story . .
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The House of Ashes is probably the book that I have been gripped by most this year. I felt dread, sadness and admiration throughout most of it. It is a dual time frame novel with a handful of narrators whose only real obvious connection was that they were all female and who were all facing abuse from people they lived with. By a long way, it was Mary’s narrative I found easiest to read. Only a child, she was the only one who could see innocence in what she experienced. I loved reading about her dreams of being able to see across the sea to other countries. But when she started to understand what danger her and her mummies faced I could also see how loyal and determined she was despite her age.
The author does an incredible job of making all his narrators convincing. Switching from a young girl who has never experienced freedom in one chapter to a terrified but determined to escape new arrival and then decades later to a controlled and damaged young woman.
It is one of those books that could cover more than one genre. Obviously crime but also historical with the brief description the conflicts in the ‘North of Ireland’ as it is described in the book and also gothic with the children who were in the shadows and who a handful of the characters could see.
I read this novel very quickly, finding it impossible to put down.
Stuart Neville will be appearing at First Monday Crime alongside Janice Hallett, Catherine Ryan Howard and Robert Gold. You can watch via the Facebook page on Monday 7th March at 7.30pm.