Nature abhors a straight line. The natural world is a place of curves and softened edges, of gentle mists and welcoming spirals. Nature remembers deviation; nature does not forgive.
For Harlowe Upton-Jones, life has never been a straight line. Shipped off to live with her paternal grandparents after a mysterious cult killed her mother and father, she has grown up chasing the question behind the curve, becoming part of a tight-knit teen detective agency. But “teen” is a limited time offer, and when her friends start looking for adult professions, it’s up to Harlowe to find them one last case so that they can go out in a blaze of glory.
Welcome to Spindrift House.
The stories and legends surrounding the decrepit property are countless and contradictory, but one thing is clear: there are people willing to pay a great deal to determine the legal ownership of the house. When Harlowe and her friends agree to investigate the mystery behind the manor, they do so on the assumption that they’ll be going down in history as the ones who determined who built Spindrift House—and why. The house has secrets. They have the skills. They have a plan. They have everything they need to solve the mystery.
Everything they need except for time. Because Spindrift House keeps its secrets for a reason, and it has no intention of letting them go.
Nature abhors a straight line.
Here’s where the story bends.
Buy on Amazon: eBook
Horror After Dark Review
IN THE SHADOW OF SPINDRIFT HOUSE, by Mira Grant, is a book that mixes mystery, Lovecraftian horror, and a group of four teenaged friends who solved local mysteries together. Think the “Scooby-Doo” gang, without Scooby-Doo, and you’ll get the picture. The “Answer Squad”, as they were collectively known as, had been together all through their middle and high school years. Now, on the verge of adulthood, Harlowe Upton-Jones is looking for one big case to try to keep them all from drifting apart.
“. . . Answer Squad . . . it wasn’t so on the nose as to lock us into a single segment of the “teen sleuths solve mysteries, try not to die horrible deaths” market.”
Although the biggest mystery to Harlow–why her parents were brutally murdered by cultists, while leaving her infant-self unharmed–was never one she brought the group together to solve.
At least, she didn’t until her research brought her to Spindrift House, and the offer of a large payout, should they find proof of the legal owners.
“. . . Spindrift House has had a great deal of time to decide what it wants to be, and what it wants to be is unforgiving.”
I will admit that I am a fan of both Scooby-Doo and Lovecraft, so the combination was an instant “like” for me. These four main characters had a lot of history shared with us–much more with Harlowe and her “foster brother”, Kevin, than with the twins, Andy and Addison.
“. . . take away anyone of us and we ceased to function.”
The dynamics between them were just what you would expect between long-time friends. I especially enjoyed the hints of dark humor and sarcasm.
“I did not want to go to Miskatonic. I wanted to attend a school where the number of surviving graduates exceeded the number on the “In Memoriam” page of the yearbook . . . “
Once at this house, the atmosphere takes over completely. We have a large mansion overseeing the nightly Ocean. The town below mostly deserted as the waters inexorably claim more and more of the land each passing minute. The fact that Spindrift House is still solidly standing is alone enough to give it that extra air of mystery.
“There is no question that the house is haunted: that is simple fact . . . “
There is so much happening here on a psychological level, that really makes this story stand out. From the different impressions that the group have of the house, nightmares that only affect some, and the constant calling of the sea that is omnipresent, the mental changes are far more overpowering than the physical.
“This house. It’s like . . . It’s like it’s rotting from the inside out . . .”
Overall, we have a fun mash-up of teen sleuths and Lovecraftian lore, but elevated by the psychological manifestations that take control. There were several plot twists I anticipated in advance, yet this did not deter me from enjoying the story as it unfolded. Often, the “mental”revelations are a more powerful form of horror than the physical ones, in my opinion. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book by this author.
“. . . Some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved . . .”
About The Author
About Mira Grant
Mira Grant lives in California, sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests you do the same. Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire – winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. Find out more about the author at www.miragrant.com or follow her on twitter @seananmcguire.