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House of Many Shadows

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,682 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Meg Rittenhouse fears she is losing her mind. The doctors tell her the strange and disturbing hallucinations she's been experiencing ever since her accident are all in her head, and that, with a little rest, the haunting visions will vanish. But accepting an invitation to stay with her cousin in the country may be the worst decision Meg has ever made. Here, in a remote old ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by HarperTorch (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
A re-read

This is one of those books that is good, but not great, and then it warms up to you more at the end.

Barbara Michaels had an enthusiasm for old houses that shows clearly in almost all her gothic works, of which there were many. She also has a fondness for antiques. I noticed that in Agatha Christie's biography, she also loved houses, antiques, and traveling - which Barbara Michaels did as well under her real name, Barbara Mertz. (She had a PhD in Egyptology.) It's telling that antiques,
House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels is a 2006 Harper Touch publication.

I own a very nice set of Barbara Michaels novels, all set inside sleeves and prominently displayed on one of my bookshelves. However, as much as I loved this authors work back in the day, I could not remember reading this one.

However, I didn’t want to read my collector copy, afraid of damaging the book in some way, so I checked on my subscription service and found I was in luck! The book has been released in electroni
Apr 07, 2011 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
In House of Many Shadows, Meg Rittenhouse is having hallucinations after being hit by a car. Her doctor had told her to expect this and that they'll eventually wear off. But after seeing an elephant strolling down a busy street in New York, Meg has decided to find somewhere more relaxing to live. So, she calls up her rich cousin, Sylvia, for help. Sylvia agrees that Meg needs help and offers to let her stay at the large Victorian house she owns in the country. But the house has a twisted history ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Roberta rated it really liked it
Barbara Michaels (Barbara Mertz) was one of my favorite authors. I grew up reading her mysteries as both Michaels and Elizabeth Peters. She recently passed away and that has moved me to update my Michaels shelf to my Nook and re-read some old favorites. Mertz was a master of the romantic suspense genre and as Michaels she often added a supernatural flair. Reading this was like spending time with an old friend. And, I am not ashamed to say I did need to turn on the nightlight after reading it. I ...more
Apr 29, 2011 Valerie rated it really liked it
This was one of my absolute favorite books when I was a teenager, and one of the only books that I've read over and over again. My mom used to go to used bookstores and buy me gothics (my favorite genre when I was a teen), and she picked this one up for me. This book, along with Watch the Wall My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge were the two most read books in my personal library. And this book actually got me into needlepoint!
Oct 08, 2011 Kasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading some great books written by Michaels this is my second time being disappointed and I think I will require a lengthy break from her novels after this one. The book has some nice parts, that saves it form being a one star in my opinion, such as the descriptions of the house and the characters, I enjoyed reading about Meg and Andy's relationship, it was cozy to see two people spend so much time alone and try to solve the mystery of their cousin's haunted house in which they lived in, ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
With House of Many Shadows, I jump pretty far back along Barbara Michaels' bibliography, from the mid-90's back to the mid-70's. Despite this being one of her older novels, it's actually not terribly dated; it helps that the setting is in the obligatory Creepy Old House in the Country, and that there are exactly two technology references that really date the book (a tape recorder and a dictaphone). Reading it, then, is a pleasantly timeless experience.

Meg Rittenhouse is suffering from hallucinat
Amy S
Aug 02, 2016 Amy S rated it really liked it
Rating 3.5

Another Barbara Michaels used bookstore find, I finished this one on an airplane. Not the best I've read of hers,but I did like it. Definitely picks up speed in the last half, and the resolution of the mystery is very satisfying.

Meg is housesitting in her friend Sylvia's gothic mansion while she recovers from a car accident which has given her hallucinations. It doesn't take long before she has what she thinks is another hallucination in this house, until she realizes Andy, the careta
D.M. Hoffman
Jun 02, 2014 D.M. Hoffman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book inspired me to write my novel. I had my eye on it for a while years back, and when I finally gave in and made the purchase, I ended up reading it in one night - I simply could not put it down. It lures you chapter by chapter into the shadows of the tale and soon you have no choice but continue until the end. After reading this book I immediately purchased others by Barbara Michaels, and it wasn't long before I owned all of her works. I truly enjoy her writing and highly recommend givin ...more
Lisa Greer
Jan 04, 2008 Lisa Greer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
You know what? I love mysteries, and I don't mean high literary ones. For my money, it is tough to beat Barbara Michaels. With a Ph.D. in Egyptology, her work is unique, and it is chock full of philosophy as well as wonderfully round characters. I liked the atmosphere and main characters in this novel very much.
Mar 12, 2014 Cari rated it really liked it
Now I remember why I read every single Barbara Michaels book I could find in the high school and public library... This is really good, entertaining stuff! Who doesn't love a romance with some mystery and a nice, creepy haunting!? I'm very glad I decided to revisit this author. Her books are a lot of fun!
Dec 20, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-supernatural
Good ghost story, mixing modern day (well, 1974) characters and times with ghostly characters from the 1740s.
Apr 17, 2016 Michael rated it liked it
First off, that blurb isn't entirely accurate.  Andy is "kind" and "considerate"?  Those aren't the first words I would've chosen to describe him, but ok... Also, Meg isn't staying with her cousin-- and there are no black shapes dancing in the shadows.  But other than that, great job, blurb-writer!

I've lost track of how many of Barbara Michaels' gothic/paranormal novels I've read.  Quite a few, at this point.  I have a love-hate relationship with this author.  There's almost always something to
Alexandra K
Jun 13, 2017 Alexandra K rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is a gothic novel featuring an old house, the Pennsylvania Dutch, and ghosts. Obviously I was going to read it.

3/5 stars for the writing, +1 for sheer enjoyment.
Mar 05, 2013 Liz rated it liked it
Barbara Michaels, who also writes as Elizabeth Peters has a pattern to her modern gothic novels. First you have a young, educated feminist who is sent to an old house, usually by a curmudgeonly relative. Typically there is a young man, who by some means is fated to be the star-crossed lover, at least at first. Hi-jinks ensue.

In House of Many Shadows, we meet Meg Rittenhouse who is recovering from an auto accident which has left her mostly healthy, but with a tendency to have hallucinations, both
House of Many Shadows is a typical example of the unique style of Barbara Michaels. Michaels has a knack for creating stories that draw the reader in with attractive characters and settings, and then adding substantial doses of tension, suspense and...the unknown. As a reader, you become instantly immersed in the world within the pages.

This tale certainly has the attractive characters, the leads of which are Meg Rittenhouse and Andy Brenner. There is also an eccentric supporting cast that deserv
Kathy Jackson
May 21, 2012 Kathy Jackson rated it it was ok
Where to begin…

The story is a good idea – ghosts invade a house built on the site of a house where a murder occurred. The couple there – Meg and Andy are both damaged humans who try to figure out the reasons for the haunting. Each is likeable but their relationship is rocky – actually rather irritating – throughout most of the book.

While the characters are rather believable, they also lack a luster that is there with the other Barbara Michaels books. I’m afraid the whole idea of dimension foldin
Patricia Houston
May 05, 2014 Patricia Houston rated it liked it
Michaels/Peters/Mertz was one of my favorite authors whatever name she used. As Barbara Michaels she wrote what I suppose can be referred to as supernatural romantic suspense. But I always felt she was spoofing that style. Her "heroes" were more likely to squeal with terror than her heroines. Her females were no shrinking violets and they didn't mind proving that they were as smart, if not smarter, than the males. And she was a very funny writer, as well. And informative. I loved this book becau ...more
Jul 17, 2013 eamhanoj rated it liked it
Have you ever encountered a book where the story seems to be dragging but you kept on reading it, not noticing that you’re almost finished with it? This book has that effect on me.

I think it was the mystery that made me keep on reading it. What I just noticed is there’s a lot of things that was being dealt in the book, like a crazy man, the haunting of the murdered people in the previous house and the mysteries surrounding the hauntings and the personalities of Meg and Andy. It’s sort of draggi
Dec 13, 2012 Stacy rated it liked it
The book was a spooky page turner. The visions combined with the history and geneology made this a great read for me. The real relationship between Meg and Andy was prickly and I enjoyed the references to Andy being a coward. Meg was the tough one and I loved reading about a strong woman – even if she was seeing things that weren’t there.

Michaels did a great job of wrapping up the mystery of the house and visions in a satisfying way, but there were a few loose ends about the characters that I w
May 11, 2015 Phair rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While marketed as a gothic romance back in the 70s complete with brooding house on the cover this was hardly a gothic. Closer to a paranormal in that ghosts were central to the story while romance was only a minor part. Lots of 70s references were a hoot (Drugged out hippie types, dictaphones!) and there was also some history about the ghosts era, the 1740s. Overall this was atmospheric, it read well but there was a little too much focus on the ghosts being real for my taste. Ending was also a b ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Sistermagpie rated it liked it
Shelves: supernatural
Enjoyable haunted house story from Barbara Michaels. The heroine this time is a young woman who was in an accident and now suffers from temporary illusions--just the person to doubt the ghosts she sees. She's sharing her aunt's house with the woman's ex-stepson, who used to terrorize her as a child. Luckily, he's no longer the terrorizing type and sparks fly!

The mystery begins with a hidden sampler, which I definitely appreciated, and the final explanation of the house's secret has enough of a t
Nov 02, 2014 Angie rated it really liked it
This was my first book by Barbara Michaels, and I'm embarrassed to admit I had never heard of her until a few months ago. Man, did I not realize what I was missing!

This is American gothic--spooky, fun, a little romance. I'll definitely be hunting her books down to read. Luckily for me, she wrote a ton of them.

I read a ton of Victoria Holt when I was younger and still love her books. This gave off that kind of vibe. You can read these many times and never bore of them.

(A clean read too!)
Lea Wait
May 17, 2014 Lea Wait rated it really liked it
It's been a long while since I read a Gothic mystery, complete with ghosts. Too long. And Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters) know how to write one! Nineteenth century house in eastern Pennsylvania, hunky (but troubled) hero. beautiful (but troubled) heroine ... and a few eighteenth century ghosts to round out the cast. Bottom line: the afternoon slipped away. I hardly noticed. Hey - maybe I should take up cross-stitch. (Read House of Many Shadows and find out why.)

Aug 25, 2012 Teri rated it it was ok
Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters is among one of my favorite authors. I have read many of her books (some several times) and found this particular book to be a disappointment. It was not as engaging as most of her work is and I quickly became bored with the story. Always a loyal fan, I pushed through to the end and, unfortunately, found that my opinion never waivered. Definitely not her best work.
Nov 05, 2009 Laura rated it it was ok
I wish I had liked this novel better because a friend lent it to me.

It was a quick read but the characters were very two dimensional and I never felt for their plight (seeing strange things in an old house and a creepy ex-tenant).

There were at least two major grammatical errors that jumped out at me. Wrong verb tenses and the like also irked me.

This novel was written in the 70s, so maybe that explains it.
Mar 31, 2015 Tess rated it it was ok
This is a just "okay" little mystery/ ghost story with a somewhat interesting plot but weak characters. I always forget that Barbara Michaels was writing in the 60's and 70's, and thus the way the male and female characters interact with and treat each other is a little old fashioned. I was uncomfortable with how often Andy told Meg to "shut up" and how much of their relationship was built on mistrust and dislike. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it just wasn't that pleasant to read.
Aug 26, 2016 Grace rated it it was ok
Could not put this ghost story down and was so startled that I jumped out of bed when the kids came in to say goodnight. It's definitely spooky and the ghostiness built slowly with dread to a satisfying conclusion. However, I'm only giving it 2 stars because for Barbara Michaels, this one is far below her usual suspenseful standards. The dialogue was weirdly stilted, and Andy was weird and not nice enough to be redeemed.
Apr 28, 2014 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a painfully long read.
The story was repetitive, had way too many clichés, was very predictable and the characters were light and they had a promising beginning, but as the story advanced they got way too flat and dull. They weren't deep nor dynamic... just dull.

I must say that what Culver did in he end was surprising. Everythig else was too predictable and the antiques took much, if not all, of the focus for at least half of the book.
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Barbara Michaels was a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She also wrote as Elizabeth Peters, as well as under her own name.

She was born in Canton, Illinois and has written over fifty books including some in Egyptology. Dr. Mertz also holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Egyptology.
More about Barbara Michaels...

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