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A House of Ghosts

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  3,141 ratings  ·  605 reviews
Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it graduall
Kindle Edition
Published October 4th 2018 by Zaffre
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  3,141 ratings  ·  605 reviews

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As the dark autumn nights begin to draw in, WC Ryan gives us historical fiction in the form of a dark supernatural novel set on a isolated Blackwater Island, off the Devon coast. This takes place in the Winter of 1917 where a ferocious battle is taking place between Germany and Britain and its allies to win the war at any cost. In this story of the military intelligence services, there are concerns that key pieces of strategic knowledge are finding their way into German hands. Kate Cartwright is ...more
Oct 19, 2019 marked it as dnf
DNF at page 100

This ticked all by boxes for a perfect October read (or anytime of year):

✔️ WWI setting
✔️Gothic vibe
✔️A winter storm
✔️a locked door mystery on an isolated island off the coast of England
✔️ A murder

It was a dark stormy day when I settled in for what I hoped would be a spooky chilling story.

Unfortunately by page 100 there still was no murder, I couldn’t keep all the characters straight, and my eyes were glazing over with boredom.

Onto the DNF pile it went.
Diane S ☔
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019
I surprisingly found this to be a book that I think was probably better on audio. Surprising to me, because I have had much better luck listening to non fiction, than fiction. I wouldn't say this is a ghost story, though there are certainly ghosts, a medium and a seance as well as a few who have the ability to actually see these ghosts.

Takes place in an old house, on the coast of Devon, where some have gathered to contact the sons they had lost in the war. Air masks, schemes, military and other
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a mix of ghost story, mystery, with a touch of espionage and even a little romance. It is 1917 and WWI has been going on for three, long years. Almost every family in Britain has been touched by loss and this includes Kate Cartwright, whose brother was recently killed. Kate is working as a code-breaker, when she is asked by Captain Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming (known as ‘C’ and Head of the Secret Intelligence Service) to take up the offer of a visit to Black Water Abbey, home of Lor ...more
Umut Rados
I was expecting a spooky ghost story from this book as the cover promises, but I was let down.
It's a normal crime book, which takes place in a remote house. And there are ghosts, but they didn't have much to do with the story.
It took a lot of effort to understand who is who at the beginning of the book, as the writer used names, surnames alternating. It was very confusing.
It says there's a crime, but crime didn't happen until 70% of the book. And the whole thing together with the wrap up was a b
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because I'm familiar with the previous work of William Ryan and I loved the cover but also because I am a huge fan of stories where people are trapped in a house, with bad weather and a mystery going on and I wasn't disappointed! I really enjoyed reading this book! The mystery was good, I liked the main characters Donovan and Kate as personalities also the dynamic between them and the romance was delightful! If William Ryan decides to write another book with them I would ha
Oct 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
You have to work very hard to make a book that includes an eerie house on an island, a multitude of ghosts, people who can see said ghosts, a spy network, WW 1, and a seance during a storm, dull and boring. And this book worked very hard to do just that!
Liz Barnsley
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A House of Ghosts is a shiver inducing beautifully written and immersive story – think Agatha Christie meets M.R. James but done in Mr Ryan’s own indomitable style, which if you’ve read “The Constant Soldier” you’ll know is pretty damn fine.
Its a perfectly pitched mystery, set in wartime, a place and time the author brings to descriptively vivid life. The story itself is most excellent, spies and nefarious goings on, in a haunted house cut off by a storm where nobody is being entirely honest.
Alice (Married To Books)
I listened to this novel on audio via my local library's BorrowBox service!

A historical crime novel filled with a mysterious house and spooky ghosts? SIGN. ME. UP

After hearing so many mixed reviews about the lack of scares, I was a little worried going into A House Of Ghosts. But I can say with my hand on my heart, that the audiobook made me shiver and kept me edge of my seat excited for the plot twists thrown throughout. Set during the final years of WW1, main character Kate arrives at Blackwat
Roman Clodia
3.5 stars from me as I enjoyed this but also found it ever so slightly too long. There are traces of Agatha Christie in the ill-assorted house party on an island cut off by a storm and with a nefarious killer on the loose... a bit of the Famous Five with secret passages galore... a supernatural overlay as the house is packed with literal ghosts which pretty much everyone can see... an amiable romance... and even an all guns blazing shoot out at the end! Mixed in with all the drama are some more ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I would say that A House of Ghosts is a book that is perfectly all right. It's neither scary nor that thrilling to be perfectly honest. However, it's a good story. It's a story to be read when it's dark and stormy outside and you are all alone in a house (far far away from civilization preferably). Of course, it's perfectly all right to read it in bed in the dark as I did. Not that stormy outside, but I was alone.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. The story in itself is interesting, and it has everythin
Jeanne Adamek
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Goodreads friend recommended this mystery story, mentioning that there were spies, ghosts,WWI and England in it. Loving all thoses elements, I will add that there are also secret passages, a storm, and something that I love maybe even more. I love what I would call old-fashioned English mysteries. I started reading them in my teens, with books that my mother passed onto me. I absolutely adore the droll understatement that comes accross in a lot of these mysteries. W. C. Ryan captures this perf ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
No way could I start off my review with anything other than the cover. It is simply stunning. It's one that if you read on the kindle, you will without a doubt buy a physical copy just to show it off on your book shelf. It really is that eye catching.

The blurb was also something that attracted me to this book. It just sounded so wonderfully dark and steeped in mystery. I couldn't wait to start turning those pages to see if what was inside was every bit as good as the look and sound of the book.

Montzalee Wittmann
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan, William Ryan is a book I requested from NetGalley and the review is voluntary. This book features a haunted house and it does have plenty of ghosts but the main story is the many mysteries! The ghosts are just there and watch the show! Lol! There is an island just off the mainland and several people are invited. It's a big mansion and the year is 1917. Miss Cartwright is asked to come with her fiance but she has called off the wedding so is asked to go with Mr Don ...more
I enjoyed this, although I think the title could be a little misleading.
'House of Ghosts' does in fact contain... a house of ghosts, but it is simply where the story is set. The ghosts themselves don't really play a significant part in the book, or provide any 'scares' - they furnish the backdrop to what is a murder mystery, set during the first world war.
Blackwater Abbey is on an island where a group of invited guests gather, which then gets cut off from the mainland in a storm - a classic (& f
Lucy Jackson
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I liked the sound of this book, with supernatural elements, murder and set during the war on an island in a big old house with secret passages and such like, with interesting characters, what's not to love?
I guess for me it just fell flat, it wasn't as atmospheric as I hoped it would be and neither did I care much for the characters, I could not connect with any of them, it's a shame.
Kirsty ❤️
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books where I'm glad I didn't read the reviews online on certain sites first because there didn't seem to be a lot of love for it and for me it wasn't as bad as I would have thought reading the reviews. 

It does have a good feel for And Then There Were None to it in the set up of the book. You can see the house and surrounding island so well. It was't hard to picture it at all. There's a lot less people die on this though and it has a lot more ghosts. I quite liked the added
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
If books could win awards for their covers then "A House of Ghosts" would win hands down, such beauty - black with gorgeous gold etching, just truly beautiful and worth every penny just to adorn your bookcase. I guarantee that this will be the main talking point from a lot of reviewers and rightly so.
The premise of the story is based on a World War One military espionage theme with elements of the supernatural. The tone of writing for the era of the book is spot on and I could quite clearly hear
The Librarian
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, best-of-2019
If you are in need of a cozy mystery with gothic undertones, then A House of Ghosts will be a perfect read for you. An isolated mansion, horrid weather, bad house guests and a few ghosts added to the mix make for a delicious little book - a perfect novel to curl up with a nice cuppa something.
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
A House of Ghosts takes place in December 1917 against the devastating and destructive backdrop of the First World War. Lord and Lady Highmount have arranged for a house party to take place in their home of Blackwater Abbey on the island of Blackwater. Stricken by their grief over losing their two sons during the fighting, with the unusual history of the Abbey and the approaching winter solstice. The Highmount’s want to use the party, the two invited mediums and the rest of the attending guests ...more
Nancy Oakes
It KILLS me to give a book this rating but this one definitely deserves it.

I ask you, how could any mystery/ghost-story fan not enjoy a novel with a remote island setting, a storm that makes it impossible for anyone to leave, a former abbey/old house where spirits roam freely, a mystery involving spies, a murder, and best of all the promise of a seance to bring forth even more spirits? These are all elements that tick my own mystery/supernatural-reading b
This is a superb haunted house chiller, its mood intensified by its setting during the First World War. Its location on an island cut off by a mid-winter storm is also very evocative. I loved every page. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in the winter of 1917, when the First World War is raging on and a sense of hopelessness and loss hangs over Britain, W. C. Ryan takes us to Blackwater Abbey, on an island just off the Devon coast.
Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering with the purpose of connecting with his two sons, both believed to have died in the war. But that’s not the only reason for the gathering.
As a storm descends on the island, keeping all the guests trapped, secrets and lies start coming to light.
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lord and Lady Highmount gather a group of select people on an island off the English coast. Their aim is to create the perfect seance conditions in order to contact their deceased loved ones who were killed in the First World War. Kate and Donovan have been sent by the secret services to find out who has been passing on information to the Germans. But many people on the island are not what they seem. This was sort of like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None but with added ghosts. It's a t ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
A unique combination of ghost and murder mystery. Without any suspense whatsoever.

Maybe it was because I listened to the story on Hoopla. The narrator was a female and used the same growly voice for every man, to the point I was never sure who was talking. Especially when two men were conversing. It was like a growly voice talking to itself. Which, in a sense, it was.

Other than that, I felt there was way too much dialogue that did not propel the plot along. It took half way through to even get t
Cathy Ryan
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A House of Ghosts is primarily a tale of espionage during the height of WW1, with a dark and atmospheric supernatural thread. Donovan and Kate Cartwright are involved with the Secret Intelligence Service under the supervision of Captain Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming RN, but unknown to one another until they are sent on an assignment to Blackwater Abbey, set on an isolated island off the Devon coast.

Kate, previously a code breaker for Naval Intelligence, is tasked with attending a winter solsti
Rob Kitchin
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In A House of Ghosts Ryan mashes together elements of a golden age country house crime tale, a ghost story, and an espionage thriller. Using a classic setup, he isolates his characters in a house on an island, using the weather as means to trap them there. The house is an old abbey and is haunted by centuries worth of inhabitants, is riddled with secret passages, and has its upstairs-downstairs politics of servants and owners/guests. Among the guests are two spiritualists, a doctor whose shell-s ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
This murder mystery set in a haunted house on an isolated island takes place during WWI. That one sentence contains pretty well all my favourite elements so I had high hopes for this book. It did not disappoint and in fact far exceeded my high expectations. The setting is absolute perfection. Creepy, remote and chock full of history. There is a paranormal element to the story as spiritualists and seances were all the rage at the time as families tried to contact their dead loved ones who had per ...more
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Feb 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
You see Dead People. Imagine what that would be like, to move through every room, walk down every street brushing against the spirits of those who have gone before ...

Well, you're going to have to keep imagining, because you're sure not going to get any idea of what it would be like from this simply terrible, really awful book. Downton Abbey meets Ghostbusters. P.G. Wodehouse meets The Haunting of Hill House. The Telephone Directory meets the most boring conversation you've ever been stuck in,
Grab some popcorn, find a roaring fire, and settle in for an entertaining read! Set during the time of WWI, this is a cozy gothic mystery that takes place in a sprawling mansion inhabited by ghosts. This whodunit reminiscent of Agatha Christie (and maybe even Clue: Was it Miss Scarlet in the library with the wrench?) ties together elements of espionage, romance, and the paranormal while mostly keeping the reader guessing until the very end. If there's anything to quibble about, it is the rather ...more
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W. C. Ryan is also known as William Ryan, who has won acclaim for his historical crime novels in the Captain Korolev series. The first book, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for a Crime Writer's Association's New Blood Dagger, a Barry Award, the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award,, and the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year. The second, The Bloody Meadow, was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Nove ...more

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