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The House on Vesper Sands

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  296 ratings  ·  42 reviews
‘Ladies and gentlemen, the darkness is complete.’

It is the winter of 1893, and in London the snow is falling.

It is falling as Gideon Bliss seeks shelter in a Soho church, where he finds Angie Tatton lying before the altar. His one-time love is at death’s door, murmuring about brightness and black air, and about those she calls the Spiriters. In the morning she is gone.

Hardcover, 372 pages
Published October 18th 2018 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  296 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Ova - Excuse My Reading
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded to 4!

Octavia is definitely a character you will not regret reading. I loved the atmosphere in the novel, it was like walking in the foggy streets of Victorian London. A Gothic mystery with supernatural elements and was a good tale, but somehow alongside the way my attention got chopped from the story, the pace slowed, the characters weren't as interesting as they were in the start. The ending picked up the tension and pace again. Maybe it was because the mysterious Lord Strythe wasn'
Liz Barnsley
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m on a right reading roll at the moment and nothing has captured my imagination quite as much as The House On Vesper Sands.
Brilliantly immersive, descriptively pitch perfect with a hugely dynamic set of characters, this is one of those books you devour in short order, living it all the way. The era is captured in reading surround sound and the story itself is completely compelling…dark as you like and twice as delicious.
The characters you’ll meet within the pages are all, every one of them, co
The clocks have gone back and Halloween has passed – now it's officially winter, I have a craving for historical fiction. The House on Vesper Sands is a Victorian pastiche with a mystery at its heart and touches of the macabre – a bit like The Woman in Black spliced with a Dickens novel.

The opening chapter is brilliantly captivating; I found it irresistible. Esther Tull, a seamstress, visits a grand house at night and is coldly received by a sneering butler. While she has official business at
Mairead Hearne (
My Rating ~ 4.5*

'Ladies and gentlemen, the darkness is complete.'

Looking for something exciting? Looking for something dark and mysterious? Well look no further.

The House on Vesper Sands is the latest novel from Paraic O’ Donnell and is a perfectly pitched tale of suspense wrapped up in a shadowy cloak of darkness.

Welcome to Vesper Sands, a gothic tale that will delight and mystify, that will enthrall and bewitch from the opening pages.

Gideon Bliss arrives from Cambridge to meet up with his un
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2018
On a bitterly cold night, three seemingly unconnected events happen. Lord Strythe who is being watched by Octavia Hillingdon who thinks she is onto a story, vanishes into the night. In his home, a seamstress who is there to make alterations to a finely crafted gown is locked into the attic room to carry out her duties. She has been careful to disguise her pain in front of the butler from the words sewn into her own flesh, but she climbs through the window onto the sill before turning and jumping ...more
Andy Weston
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O’Donnell’s plot is a somewhat dubious one, though his historical accuracy and the gothic athmosphere he creates are certainly enticing.
In Victorian London a young man arrives searching for his guardian. Women disappear and fall mysteriously to their deaths. In his quest, the young man encounters Inspector Cutter Of the yard and together they follow the trail to an isolated mansion on the Kent coast. At the same time, intrepid journalist Octavia Hillingdon follows the case, albeit a parallel st
Nancy Oakes
like a 3.6 bumped up for the sheer enjoyment/purely entertaining factor.

full post here at my reading journal:

The House on Vesper Sands is a good mix of historical crime fiction and Victorian sensation fiction with more than a slight supernatural edge -- in short, it hit all of my relax-time, escape reading buttons. I read like I do everything else, wholeheartedly, giving the book in front of me my undivided attention, but sometimes I just need a brain bre
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Blaaaaaah. Pushing a 2.5 but I don't like it nearly enough to round up.

This was very nearly a did not finish, but I always read 50 pages before giving up on a book. By that time, I just about cared enough about what might happen to keep going (and also had no energy to choose something else to read next.) I hoped it would get better as it went, but it did not. There was no real character development, the mysteries were all so straightforward even when they were revealed, and it all seemed very.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When 2 genres collide, Victorian detective novel featuring the indomitable Inspector Cutter ably or maybe not so ably assisted by Gideon Bliss, they find themselves investigating an unusual case which involves missing young girls. However, as I've mentioned this isn't just a detective novel and it also deals with the supernatural.

I loved this, Paraic O'Donnell captures the essence of a Victorian gothic mystery. He populates this rather wonderful novel with a cast a characters, and I'm hoping Bli
Helen Carolan
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness. I totally loved this one. Part Victorian mystery, part Gothic and part fantasy, this had me gripped from the start. Gideon Bliss arrives in London to spend time with his reverend uncle only to find he's disappeared. Talking shelter in a nearby church he comes upon his foormer flame Angie Tatton who is near death and talking about the spiriters. In the morning she is gone. Gideon links up with inspector Cutter who is investigating the spiriters and their possible leader lord Stryt ...more
Darren Darker
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve just finished reading The House of Vesper Sands and I loved it. It’s the 2nd novel from Paraic O’Donnell and I found it far more accessible than his first The Maker of Swans.
The principle characters of inspector Cutter and his unwitting companion Gideon Bliss are investigating the presumed suicide of a seamstress working for a rich powerful man in Mayfair. Bliss has personal history and romantic interest in another girl, Angie Tatton, who is connected to the death but has subsequently disa
It's the late Victorian era and a seamstress is locked in a room in a lord's house to complete a project for him. She finds a way out and throws herself off the roof. Meanwhile, Gideon Bliss is seeking his missing uncle when he comes across a young woman he knows in a church who seems to have been attacked or something. Gideon's search brings him into the orbit of Inspector Cutter and the two of them find that the case of the dead seamstress ties in with that of the missing uncle. This was a ver ...more
Jack Bates
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A marvellously Gothic mystery

Potentially paranormal adventures in Victorian London (and Kent) and some excellent characters. Neatly plotted, convincingly researched, and satisfying in every way.
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it

This is the book that The Wicked Cometh wanted to be. Young women are disappearing from London's East End, mostly orphans and servants that few, if any, will miss. A seamstress throws herself from the top of a lord's Mayfair townhouse; at the autopsy, a cryptic message is found stitched into her skin. What does it mean? And can young Gideon Bliss--recently arrived in London from his theological studies in Cambridge, but unable to find the mysterious uncle he's meant to be meeting---work wit
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting story well told. I particularly enjoyed the sense of humour running through this book.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Naïve Cambridge undergraduate Gideon Bliss is intrigued and quite pleased to receive a request for help from his normally cold and distant uncle and guardian, the do-gooding clergymen Herbert Neuilly who devotes himself to assisting vulnerable young women fallen on hard times in London. These include Angela Tatton, to whom Gideon has clearly become attached. Arrived in London, Gideon is puzzled to find that his uncle is not at his lodgings: instead, he comes across Angela in strange circumstance ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Lady Ada greeted this with a strange silence. She turned after a moment to the window. 'The wreck will be disturbed,' she remarked as if to herself. 'After aong spell of calm, it often appears that the sands will smother it entirely, then a storm comes and one wakes to find it exposed again almost to its keel.'"

It's the winter of 1893 and in London girls and women are disappearing. Upon the discovery of his uncle's ward, Angela (Angie) Tatton in a bad way and then soon after missing, Gideon Bli
Marnee Pappin
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
So I think due to being so busy it killed any pleasure I might have got from this book or this just really wasn't a book for me. It seemed to drag so much and I didn't get pulled into this book like I usually do. It hard to do a review I really wanted to enjoy this book and had been on my TBR for a far amount of time but I just couldn't which blowed.

BOOK COVER: 5 it has a stunning gorgeous cover
FAVE CHARACTER: None I couldn't even really find a full interest or enjoyment in any of the c
Lady R
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I was really looking forward to this novel as I have read & loved similar books in this genre this year such as The Wicked Cometh & The Way of All Flesh.

It started off really well but sadly I lost interest quickly & lots of things really started to irritate me not least the totally implausible plot coincidences.

It reads as if the author set out to write a pastiche of the Victorian novel but I felt it tries to be too many things - part gothic, part thriller, part discussion on women
Ruth Dipple
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was a bit of a mish mash, and it was some time before it became clear whether this was a detective novel or a ghost story, or a hybrid (it turned out to be the latter). The setting of Victorian London and society is well described but it was hard to get to grips with the characters, the exception being Inspector Cutter, an offshoot of the Bucket family by all accounts.

To be honest, I think it would have worked better as a straight detective novel - all the stuff about Spirite
Jonathan Empson
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great characters in an entertainingly witty and occasionally sweary Victorian supernatural romp. It's a slight negative that the first chapter doesn't capture this tone, though, and that what you might call choreography is sometimes under-described, leaving you wondering where characters are and what exactly they're doing. But my copy was pre-publication, so I'm hoping it got another round of structural editing.
Kate Skillington
I am a big fan of the dark gothic novel and the House on Vesper Sands does not disappoint. The Victorian atmosphere is brilliantly portrayed and the pace of the novel is never slackens. Throw in well drawn characters, an enjoyable amount of humour, a tale of the paranormal and you have a cracking good read.
Naomi Key
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2018
At first I didn’t really get on with this. Too confusing, too many characters, too much necessary Victorian wordiness. But about halfway through it all started to come together, with the last 25% being exciting and tightly plotted. Good if you enjoy a Victorian detective with a smidgen of the supernatural
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The House on Vesper Sands is a gothic detective story about a group of mysterious disappearances and a mysterious suicide. There’s a grizzled detective, a green around the gills young man, a daring female reporter and shadowy supernatural going’s ons. It took me a while to settle into the story but I rather enjoyed it by the end.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
I tried very hard to power through this book but when I found myself skipping whole pages I decided to call it a day. I was actually surprised to realise I was about halfway through.

I generally love historical fiction but it felt so false and uncomfortable to read. The dialogue was terrible and the characters was cliched. When the plotting started to fall apart I gave up...
Frank Clarke
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicola Pierce
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this - Victorian crime with humour and warmth, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Very well written and it made me laugh out loud more than once. I would love to see this as a series as I already miss the main characters. Reminded me a little of Morse, which I love!
Pam Lecky
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Victorian Gothic with a clever premise. What a fabulous read! Loved it, loved it, loved it. Superb writing, and my favourite time period with plenty of twists and turns. The setting and the characters were woven so beautifully. I hope there is a sequel. Pretty please!
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
My friend handed this book to me and said she never wanted to read anything as creepy as this again! Well it was certainly unsettling but the writing was beautiful and the plot so well crafted. A story of love, death and desire in London some time ago.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging if not particularly challenging fun pre-Christmas read- but not a truly spooky ghost story, nor yet a police procedural. It feels a little like it could be made into a Sunday tv series without too much fuss. Definitely worth whiling away a cold evening in front of the fire with
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Paraic O’Donnell's first novel, The Maker of Swans, was named the Amazon Rising Stars Debut of the Month for February 2016, and was shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in the Newcomer of the Year category.

Praise for The Maker of Swans

‘Lavishly entertaining…strange and captivating.’

The Independent

‘At its best, the prose is glorious, combining an ear for deep cadences of languag