My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Twelve years ago, journalist Paul Seaton visited the derelict Fischer House on the Isle of Wight, in the course of his research into the life of a woman photographer famous during the 1920’s. What he encountered there nearly destroyed him, and haunts him to this day. Now a quartet of college students has made a similar visit, and all are on the verge of insanity and suicide. The brother of one of them requests consultation from Paul, and though he dreads the task, he reluctantly agrees.
Around this premise, F.G. Cottam has spun a gripping tale of malevolence, reminiscent in tone and aura to Henry James’s classic The Turn of the Screw. The suspense is tangible from the very first page, and Cottam employs a very effective mechanism, that of popular music, which the characters hear playing of its own accord whenever something significant is about to occur. Among the characters are renowned occultist Aleister Crowley, horror writer Dennis Wheatley, and a young Hermann Goring. At time, it is difficult to tell the dead apart from the living. This is a relatively complex story that is truly scary, but it also requires reflection about the nature of evil and the question of whether a place can itself become imbued with evil when such acts take place in them. At time, it is difficult to tell the dead apart from the living. Rich with atmosphere, evocatively written, The House of Lost Souls is a novel you won’t soon forget.