Dark and absolutely riveting…
McSwain makes her foray into the genre of horror with this chilling tale about a couple’s gradual descent into bizarre madness as they try to confront evil lurking in the shadows of their newly-purchased house. An unfortunate incident sends the fragile Georgia Pritchard into a downward spiral of depression from where she is unable to get back. Trying to pull his wife out of her misery, Nathan Pritchard relocates themselves at Roseneath, a 100-year-old house in need of critical restoration, that he bought months ago on a whim. Settling in Roseneath changes their lives dramatically: Georgia starts living in a bizarre but contented state of exhilaration after she discovers company in the form of a ghost of a murdered child in the old attic unaware of the upcoming drastic events; and Nathan finds solace in the basement, the sole part of house he keeps off-limit for Georgia. The couple’s life soon turns upside down with Georgia wondering about the thing lurking in the basement: is it a trapped soul waiting to be released or a clever, manipulative demon with an ulterior motive? The parts that include characters’ inner conversations with the unknown make the narrative slightly difficult to comprehend. However, centered around the theme of the war between good and evil, the story is thoroughly shaped by different characters’ point of views. McSwain paints a credible portrait of a couple in extremis both emotionally and physically as they try to cope with the unexplainable while the wall between reality and illusion wears away. The sections that convey Georgia, Edith, and Nathan’s inner turmoil add a thorough psychological depth to the deviously dark and not-so-subtle horror narrative. The characters are sketched with skill and depth: Georgia is carved with gentle care and utmost precision, and readers will find themselves rooting for her throughout. Nathan as a protective husband is equally convincing. Precocious Edith, who hauntingly evokes readers’ sympathy is a triumph of a character; Michael is delightfully dotty and utterly intimidating at once; The antagonist is the devious, ultimate villain readers will love to hate. McSwain’s lyrical prose combined with visual imagination offers the eerie horror atmosphere, and Roseneath as the violent, volatile realm of dark fairy tales provides perfect backdrop for the wonderfully creepy story. The narrative is both flawlessly paced and suspenseful. This taut tale of horror provocatively keeps the reader waiting for final revelation as an eerie juxtaposition of good and evil is revealed. This is a winner.
By Dana McSwain
Webb House Publishing
Pub date October 6, 2020
Price $29.99 (USD) paperback, $7.99 Kindle edition