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The Dead House

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,379 ratings  ·  329 reviews
This best-selling debut by an award-winning writer is both an eerie contemporary ghost story and a dread-inducing psychological thriller. Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore he ...more
Hardcover, 203 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Arcade/Skyhorse Publishing (first published May 1st 2017)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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 ·  1,379 ratings  ·  329 reviews

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Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ground flowed in tumultuous order, a cascade of the wildest washed-out greens torn and split by jutting flashes of slate and limestone… And always, everywhere, sealing the picture, the ocean.

Billy O’Callaghan sees with an artist's eye, analyses with a philosopher's mind, and writes with a poet's pen. So I said when I first encountered his work, last year. In this novel, the artist’s eye is even stronger, still mediated through the poet’s pen, but the analysis is rather more para-psycholog
Billy O'Callaghan is a gifted and artistic writer with this stunningly chilling piece of debut fiction. In this lyrical and dripping with atmospheric menace and eeriness novel, he delivers an unforgettable suspenseful ghost story. It is narrated by Michael Simmons, an art dealer, and close friend of Maggie Turner, an artist, whose paintings he sells at his art gallery. In this tale of love, Irish history and folklore, and friendship, Maggie's violent boyfriend's attack puts her close to death's ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Paula by: Intl Dublin literary award
Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2019

A remote cottage on the West Coast of Ireland is left to ruin after the Great Famine. Locals know better to go there. The isolated area has known a lot of death. The run down house has a grim and haunting history.

Maggie Turner, an artist from London, has decided to tour the coast of Ireland after a near death experience with her boyfriend. She is looking for isolation and the opportunity to renew her art. The cottage draws her in. She de
Diane S ☔
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love the way this author writes. Though this is my first by him it certainly won't be my last. Maggie is an artist, after a horrifying incident in her personal life, she leaves London to give herself time to mentally heal. She finds a ruin of s cottage on the rugged west coast of Ireland, falls in love with it and the isolation it provides and decides to buy this place in the hope it will get her painting again.

Michael is our narrator but also Maggies art dealer and a very good friend. Wh
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: pagehabit
this is a very quiet, atmospheric ghost story more interested in descriptions and layering individual moments to develop an overall mood than it is in delivering any horror-movie payoff.

i can appreciate it, objectively, as a piece of writing that adheres to the conventions and restraint that characterize traditional irish ghost stories, but as a reader/horror fan, i need more obvious scares to get my juices flowing.

it’s a slight book in length (202 pages) and in action - it’s ominous and sugge

”Do you believe in ghosts?

“Because that’s really where it begins, with belief. We glimpse or experience something that defies explanation and we either accept the stretch in our reality or we choose to turn our heads away. It’s a question that torments even philosophers:
Do you believe?

”Yet when the wind howls, and we find ourselves alone with only the yellow pool of a guttering candle to hold back the darkness, our instinct, perhaps our innate need for something above and beyond, still scre
3.5 stars

“History haunted the present in places like this, places that existed at a hard remove from the rest of the world, and the incessant closeness of so much storied past tended at times to skew the definition of reality.”

Last February I read My Coney Island Baby by Billy O’Callaghan. I raved about the lush language, the overwhelming sense of melancholy, and the introspective nature of the story. I loved it. I added more of his work to my list, including this one. I decided to save it for a
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Our foolishness opened a door back then, exposing something of insatiable appetite. Something monstrous.

After nine years, I'd almost forgotten, assuming, I suppose, that, having paid our price, we'd left it all behind us. But escape is never total, and we'd been wrong, Alison and I, to stop running. And now, again, it seems they've found us.

(She) said she heard my name being called, and I believe her, but I think she misunderstood. I think what she heard was actually a warning to me,
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh... I really liked this book! A really well told atmospheric tale. A female artist looking for a new start, comes across a run down cottage on the coast of Ireland, on a cliff and borrows money from her art dealer/great friend to update it and moves in.., she thinks she will thrive there and paint good artwork there. She decides to have a celebratory weekend with said friend and two other friends. On the first night together they are having drinks and one of the guests brings out a Ouija board ...more
Dead House by Billy O' Callaghan caught my eye while browsing a bookstore lately as the cover and artwork is stunning and I am a sucker for a good Irish ghost story.

I did enjoy the novel and O'Callaghan certainly knows how to create a magical sense of time and place. His descriptive writing of Irish landscape and climate is beautiful and real and this was one of the strongest elements of this short novel.

I didn't however connect with any of the characters or was I able to conjure up an im
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted a scary ghost story. I did not get that. This had potential to be great, however, this author likes his words. Holy descriptions, Batman! Pages upon pages of scenery descriptions which takes any type of suspense or tension your trying to build and chucks it right out the window. Also, there aren't any chapters - GASP! - which was truly the scariest part of this book. It's a quick book that I finished in a day but that was with the help of the skimming of several passages. I can see why ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
4 stars

My reviews can be seen at : https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

Michael is an art dealer. He is moderately successful and had discovered a new talent in a young fragile girl, Maggie. He becomes not only her agent but a friend concerned about Maggie's fragility along with two other friends, Liz and Alison.

As the tale begins Michael is retired and lives with his wife Alison and their daughter on the coast of Cornwall. He weaves the story of Maggie, a friend from the past, who had mov
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
What was I thinking when I decided to read a book titled The Dead House? I only knew I very much wanted to read O’Callaghan’s writing again. I had earlier read My Coney Island Baby, which sealed my admiration for his luscious prose. The right author, but the wrong book! O’Callaghan told a great story and I continue to swoon over his writing, but I did not have the nerve for a ghost story. Not since reading David Mitchell’s Slade House two half years ago had I been so terrified.

The protagonist,
An atmospheric tale of the supernatural set on the rugged west coast of Ireland.  But this is more than a tale of the supernatural. It is a tale of evil, of desperation, of things older than time.

The protagonist of this story is art dealer/agent Michael Simmons. He begins relating his tale from the comfort and contentment of his present home in Cornwall, which he shares with his beloved wife, Allison, and his young daughter, Hannah.

He tells of his life nine years previously when he was still sin
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-books
Thank you to Arcade Publishing and NetGalley for an advance e-copy of The Dead House by Billy O'Callaghan in exchange for an honest review. This is the kind of story that captivates you, however, as some points, you are almost afraid to turn the pages. Artist Maggie Turner has fled London to the West coast of Ireland in search of a peaceful life after an abusive relationship. She falls in love with a cottage dating back to the Great Famine. After extensive renovations. Maggie invites three frien ...more
Stephen Robert Collins
This reads more like a romantic book than ghost story.
Started with savage beating that puts Maggie the artist in hospital with half head shave for horseshoe style stickers her agent who sells her pictures comes to her rescue
Later she buys a house near Castletownbere the back of beyond in Ireland a dirty,broken thatched brick house that's got family of rats for company the sort place an artist can paint in because of the landscape & Michael Simmons can fall in love with too with the area & his
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A chilling tale of haunting and possession set in Ireland near the small town of Allhies. The story is narrated by Michael Simmons whose good friend Maggie buys a run down house and tries to get her life back together after an abusive relationship.

This is a concisely written story, well delivered. There is an air of malevolence throughout that is quite understated and therefore more sinister. A tale of coming to terms with the inexplicable. Well written, I like the author's style.
Canadian Reader
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
4 stars--I really liked it. Warnings for abuse/sexual assault.

This is a classic haunted house story, and one that actually spooked me! The best thing about this book is the setting. The house in question is one of the abandoned famine cottages in rural Ireland, on the coast and isolated from any nearby villages. The house--surrounded by mist and near an ancient stone circle--almost becomes its own character. It's really powerful imagery and I loved it.

Ghosts and Ireland are two of my favorite t
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4.0/5.0

First I have to say that the first 30% of this book was somehow slow for me. For this kind of genre and a short length book, I have expected to get into the action faster. However, I have to say that the next 70% totally compensates the slow pace of the start. The writing is beautiful and suspenseful. The story might have been said before in different ways but the way the author has presented it makes it unique and chilling. This book has a great horror atmosphere to it.

I don't w
THE DEAD HOUSE is the first book I have read by author Billy O'Callaghan. This is a difficult one for me to review for several reasons. First of all, I enjoyed the concept of the story, the characterization, and the style it was written in.

". . . I think, looking back, that I knew something would happen."

Unfortunately, there were also aspects that I didn't care for as well. I felt that there was too much "backstory" on the narrator and his business, that seemed to diminish the main incidents
Victor *True Unagi Master*
There are horror stories that I hear that scare the bejesus out of me:I'm looking at you Black-Eyed Children. Well, actually, I'd rather not look at you. When I listen to these types of stories, I end up pulling an all-nighter and going to bed only after the sun comes out because I just know that those black-eyed urchins are going to be knocking on my door.

I digress... then there are stories that I hear that don't scare me at all when listening to them, but would wreck me if I lived or knew some
Tyler J Gray
I was liking it ok enough but not loving it. It's told in Mike's POV, which the story isn't about Mike it's about Maggie, his "friend" that treats him like an ATM machine, and the house where he doesn't even spend much time in apparently. Mike's a bit of a jerk too and a good part of the story is useless information on his art dealing business. They end having a seance because Maggie, after using Mike's money to fix up the house she just bought that was in ruins, has a house warming party with h ...more
Connie G
"Do you believe in ghosts? . . . There is little about life as we have come to know it that can't be explained away on some basic scientific level. Yet when the wind howls, and we find ourselves alone with only the yellow pool of a guttering candle to hold back the darkness, our instinct, perhaps our innate need for something above and beyond, still screams otherwise." (From Prologue)

"The Dead House" is an atmospheric ghost story set in contemporary times, but seeped with the ancient superstitio
My Opinion:
Loved this BOOK! LOVED IT!
Ok, why you may ask? It had me captivated the whole way through, just when I thought I would put it down...I couldn't! I just couldn't.
I wanted to know what Michael thought about what was happening to his best friend Maggie. After she basically gets attacked by her boyfriend, Maggie starts to act differently and after Michael and a bunch of friends conjure up a ghost/spirit, things get worse. I immediately fell in love with how the story was written and exe
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ghost-stories
This is quite an effective modern ghost story, which is many layered and interesting. It is primarily set on the west coast of Ireland and is Billy O’Callaghan’s first novel (he has previously written short stories). Michael is an art dealer in London who has looked after Maggie’s art career over many years and helped her when the men in her life have abused her. She finds a ruined cottage on the west coast of Ireland and renovates it. It is a wild spot, quite isolated, in an area where “the pas ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
This novel reminded me why I've been avoiding books by old white guys. It's a slow-paced, treacle-prosed ghost story of the old-fashioned kind, which is all fine enough. The casual sexism did trip me up a few times though, like this:

"A song came on the radio, something vapid, a girl’s voice slurring words only just saved from being as empty as space by an annoying but catchy melody playing out over the same generic drum and bass slam that seems all you need now to make an impact in the charts. W
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First I must confess, Ouija Boards scare the shite out of me. You don't mess with the supernatural and oh lordy did O'Callaghan share an atmospheric tale that sent a shiver down my spine without delivering gore as we skated on the edge of the supernatural realm.

The story is told from the pov of Michael Simmons as he relates events that occurred nine years previously. Michael is an art dealer, who is now married and has a little girl. He shares a time that still haunts him and his wife. It all re
Janelle Janson
Thank you so much Skyhorse Publishing for providing my free copy of THE DEAD HOUSE by Billy O’Callaghan - all opinions are my own. My rating is 3.5 stars!

The narrator, Michael, is an art dealer who lives with his wife and child in England. He recalls an event that occurred at a party nine years prior that still haunts him to this day. Nine years ago, Michael decides to help an artist friend named Maggie, who was viscously assaulted by her boyfriend. During Maggie’s recovery, she locates a far o
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Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1974. His books include the short story collections: ‘In Exile’ (2008, Mercier Press), ‘In Too Deep’ (2008, Mercier Press), and 'The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind' (2013, New Island Books/2017, CITIC Press, China); and a novel: 'The Dead House' (2017, O'Brien Press/Arcade, USA).

His novel, 'My Coney Island Baby', was published in 2019 by

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“Having what you need as well as what you want, and knowing that you have it, must be the definition of contentment.” 0 likes
“Everything about the world ahead of me was color - subtle shades shared out among the tumbling fields and flashes of shoreline, the rocks, waves and sky- and that, I knew, was a glimpse of magic, too, an acknowledgement of my own feelings. because the water was blue, but not blue, it was grey, or green or kind of burnt silver that seemed far beyond the scope of something as simplified as paint. It was all of those, and none of them, and only the right sort of eye could see, and recognize, and understand. As usual, I was seeing it as I tended to see everything: in too simplified a way. As usual, I was blind to the depths and stories of the world.” 0 likes
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