The Blackhouse: A Novel (Hardcover)
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January 2023 Indie Next List
“A highly immersive thriller on an insular and remote Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides. Johnstone uses this wild ‘thin place’ (where the division between this world and the next is porous) to great effect — she clearly knows her stuff.”
— Debra Ginsberg, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, CA
From the author of the “dark and devious...beautifully written” (Stephen King) Mirrorland comes a richly atmospheric thriller set on an isolated Scottish island where nothing is as it seems and shocking twists lie around every corner.
A remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.
Robert Reid moved his family to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1990s, driven by hope, craving safety and community, and hiding a terrible secret. But despite his best efforts to fit in, Robert is always seen as an outsider. And as the legendary and violent Hebridean storms rage around him, he begins to unravel, believing his fate on the remote island of Kilmeray cannot be escaped.
For her entire life, Maggie MacKay has sensed something was wrong with her. When Maggie was five years old, she announced that a man on Kilmeray—a place she’d never visited—had been murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.
Nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to find out what really happened, and what the islanders are hiding. But when she begins to receive ominous threats, Maggie is forced to consider how much she is willing to risk to discover the horrifying truth.
Unnerving, enthralling, and filled with gothic suspense, The Blackhouse is a spectacularly sinister tale readers won’t soon forget.
About the Author
Carole Johnstone’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in annual “Best of” anthologies in the United States and United Kingdom. She lives with her husband in an old farmhouse outside Glasgow, Scotland, though her heart belongs to the sea and the wild islands of the Hebrides. She is the author of Mirrorland and The Blackhouse.
“Fans of Tana French will embrace author Johnstone's skill at weaving supernatural and setting-as-character aspects into her story, and readers of Lisa Jewell will enjoy her unexpected plotting and character development. The caliber of Johnstone's writing and masterful storytelling will delight both. This richly evocative story exists at the point where love, fear, guilt, bad decisions, psychosis, and mythology collide.” —Kirkus, Starred Review
“Atmospheric, thrilling, and utterly captivating.”—Booklist
“A uniquely claustrophobic and disconcerting tale with notes of otherworldliness.” —Book Riot
“Spins Norse legends, Hebridean superstitions, Bronze Age history and canny Scottish wisdom into a deeply absorbing and wildly atmospheric mystery about the dangerous brew of self-loathing, familial duty and guilt. Johnstone cleverly sets revelations, sometimes sinister, always startling, across her plot... the alchemy of place, plot and character is the white-bright light at the core of Johnstone's novel.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[An] eerie gothic thriller... this ghost story ultimately packs a gale-force wallop. Johnstone is a writer to watch.” —Publishers Weekly
“Read THE BLACKHOUSE with the lights on, wrapped in a cozy blanket... The early spring of the Scottish isle will chill your bones, along with the darkness of the book. It's as unsettling as the ocean in the stormy seas and as enigmatic as the Norse myths that accompany it. And the twists — oh, the twists.” —Book Reporter
“Johnstone fashions a gripping narrative awash with multiple shocks and secrets. A perfect choice for a winter evening, The Blackhousefreezes the blood as it churns the brain.” —Jay Strafford, Fredericksburg Free Lance Star
“Provides pulse-pounding panic.” —Popsugar
“Atmospheric and compelling with an excellent sense of place, this literary thriller is somehow both uplifting and heart-breaking, with some very unexpected twists!” —Catherine Cooper, author of The Chalet and The Chateau
“One of the most atmospheric novels of the year... cements her reputation as a rising queen of the gothic.” —Crime Reads
“One of the best suspense novels of the year... Richly atmospheric, gothic, eerie, and pulse-pounding... Multi-layered and mystical, The Blackhouse will hook you, reel you in, and capture your imagination until the last thrilling twist. —Mystery and Suspense Magazine