In the dark, it made no difference if my eyes were open or shut.
Bram needs to get away from her life and the things that happened in her past. When the occasion presents itself, she leaves the city and goes to Louth, a small town where his uncle James is restoring an ancient manor in the hopes of making a hotel out of it.
But James is haunted by his own ghosts since the fire that killed his wife and destroyed half of his lovingly renovated manor. There are also other ghosts, or so the rumours say: they are called the Dead Girls, a list of young women who have disappeared after staying at the manor Bram calls home. But the locals are not too friendly with outsiders, and the more she investigates the past of these women, the more Bram start to fear she will be the next one.
‘Know that my master sails aboard the Saardam. He is the lord of hidden things; all desperate and dark things. He offers this warning in accordance with the old laws. The Saardam‘s cargo is sin and all who board her will be brought to merciless ruin. She will not reach Amsterdam.’
Samuel Pipps, the most famous detective of his age, is being taken to Amsterdam to be executed for a mysterious crime he might, or might not, have committed. With him is his friend and bodyguard Arent Hayes, determined to prove his innocence.
But before the ship sets sail, a leper places a curse on the ship and its voyage and then bursts into flames, and soon after the departure mysterious things start to take place on the ship. Rumours of a devil stalking in the darkness start circulating among the crew, and with Pipps locked up in a cell, it falls to Arent to find out what’s really going on and solve a mystery that seems to tie all of the passengers in one way or another.
Maggie Holt has lived all her life in the shadows of her father’s book, an account of the twenty days they spent in the Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall, before fleeing in the dead of night and swearing never to come back. House of Horrors, that’s the title of the book, is an allegedly true account of the haunted house and the spirits that tried to kill five-year-old Maggie during their stay. She has no recollection of the events, but the success of the book has shaped all of her relationships: from the kids asking her about ghosts, to the teenagers inviting her to seances, to the hundreds of people who, at the mention of her name, ask her: What was it like? Living in that house.
A month ago, more or less, I finished reading Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. While the book was not a new favourite – kind of forgettable, to be honest – most of the reviews I read agree that the eight books mentioned in the infamous list are all better than the novel itself. Mystery is not my go-to genre, but I do enjoy it most of the time when I pick it up and I liked the idea of reading some older books in the genre. I hadn’t read any of these books in the past, I was curious, and it sounded like a good idea for a blog post.