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The House of Ashes

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For fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French, a chilling story of a Northern Irish murder sixty years buried Sara Keane's husband, Damien, has uprooted them from England and moved them to his native Northern Ireland for a "fresh start" in the wake of her nervous breakdown. Sara, who knows no one in Northern Ireland, is jobless, carless, friendless—all but a prisoner in her ow For fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French, a chilling story of a Northern Irish murder sixty years buried Sara Keane's husband, Damien, has uprooted them from England and moved them to his native Northern Ireland for a "fresh start" in the wake of her nervous breakdown. Sara, who knows no one in Northern Ireland, is jobless, carless, friendless—all but a prisoner in her own house. When a blood-soaked old woman beats on the door, insisting the house is hers before being bundled back to her care facility, Sara begins to understand the house has a terrible history her husband never intended for her to discover. Through the counterpoint voices of two women—one modern Englishwoman, one Northern Irish farmgirl speaking from half a century earlier—Stuart Neville offers a chilling and gorgeous portrait of violence and resilience in this truly haunting narrative.


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For fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French, a chilling story of a Northern Irish murder sixty years buried Sara Keane's husband, Damien, has uprooted them from England and moved them to his native Northern Ireland for a "fresh start" in the wake of her nervous breakdown. Sara, who knows no one in Northern Ireland, is jobless, carless, friendless—all but a prisoner in her ow For fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French, a chilling story of a Northern Irish murder sixty years buried Sara Keane's husband, Damien, has uprooted them from England and moved them to his native Northern Ireland for a "fresh start" in the wake of her nervous breakdown. Sara, who knows no one in Northern Ireland, is jobless, carless, friendless—all but a prisoner in her own house. When a blood-soaked old woman beats on the door, insisting the house is hers before being bundled back to her care facility, Sara begins to understand the house has a terrible history her husband never intended for her to discover. Through the counterpoint voices of two women—one modern Englishwoman, one Northern Irish farmgirl speaking from half a century earlier—Stuart Neville offers a chilling and gorgeous portrait of violence and resilience in this truly haunting narrative.

30 review for The House of Ashes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This is one of the darkest, saddest, most impactful novels I’ve recently read! Six decades long violent abuse remains unresolved at a haunted place! In the present time when a couple with dysfunctional relationship patterns moves to same house, the ashes and ghosts of past start surrounding them! This book truly depressed me! When you read the parts about abuse the characters suffered from, I truly felt their pain and I got suffocated. I barely finished some chapters. Honestly I love thrillers This is one of the darkest, saddest, most impactful novels I’ve recently read! Six decades long violent abuse remains unresolved at a haunted place! In the present time when a couple with dysfunctional relationship patterns moves to same house, the ashes and ghosts of past start surrounding them! This book truly depressed me! When you read the parts about abuse the characters suffered from, I truly felt their pain and I got suffocated. I barely finished some chapters. Honestly I love thrillers and big fan of horror movies and books but when I saw, get witnessed or watched something about how a person intentionally hurts another human being, I get choked. When things are defined closer to true life stories and fictional world an author created, it’s inevitable to feel more agitated! This is meaner, more painful and extremely disturbing! Two women’s stories are intercepted at the same house: the present time: Sara who recently committed suicide, psychologically shaken, barely gathering herself together, moves to the house along with her abusive, mean husband Damien. They eventually move this place located in Northern Ireland for clean start. And the house belongs to Damien’s ancestors. And Mary who is the stranger knocks her door, telling the dark truth the house carries. Mary was just a child three decades ago when she witnessed the tragic events took place at the haunted place. Sara and Mary are both dominated, gaslighted and tormented by men for years. I have a little hard time to understand Sara’s inner motivations about choosing her husband to marry and her reluctance to get out of the relationship. But when I read Mary’s perspective, I easily empathize with her because she didn’t have a way to get out at most of the time. As we read both POVs, big secrets reveal about Damien’s family. Most of them prove how far they go to hold their family values together in very disturbing and sick way! Overall: this is dark and intense story about abuse, friendship, self resilience, family secrets, women empowerment. It affected me a lot and it was one of the most compelling reads of mine. I have to warn you this is not everyone’s cup of tea! Special thanks to NetGalley and Soho Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4 the darkness is real stars This one is dark, oh so dark! Set in Northern Ireland, if there is a genre for Irish noir, I would place this book there. Featuring dual storylines, ghosts, and a mystery, this one was a compelling read. The modern-day storyline features Sara and Damien, recently moved to Damien’s homeland of Northern Ireland for a fresh start and clean slate after her mental health issues. We get glimpses into Sara’s past when she was a happier woman with friends from college and a jo 4 the darkness is real stars This one is dark, oh so dark! Set in Northern Ireland, if there is a genre for Irish noir, I would place this book there. Featuring dual storylines, ghosts, and a mystery, this one was a compelling read. The modern-day storyline features Sara and Damien, recently moved to Damien’s homeland of Northern Ireland for a fresh start and clean slate after her mental health issues. We get glimpses into Sara’s past when she was a happier woman with friends from college and a job. This was before Damien came into her life and took those things slowly away. The storyline from the past features Mary and several other women who used to live in the house that Sara and Damien are remodeling. Mary’s early life was a violent and terrible one and these passages were extremely difficult to read. These two storylines show that many women have a rough road in life and there are men who are dominating and violent. While this one was very dark, it was compelling, and I had to keep reading to find out what would happen. The ending definitely leaves some things unresolved, and this reader hopes for the best for all involved, especially Sara and Mary! They deserve some happiness and peace. Thank you to Soho Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    This book made me so sad. It’s definitely not a feel good book, though when certain characters start making correct decisions in life, you’ll feel a bit uplifted. Still…sad, though. There are two timelines here and both work. Normally, I tend to prefer one timeline but, very quickly, the author had me deeply entrenched in both our main characters’ lives. I’ll very happily read the author in the future! *ARC via Net Galley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    I adored this. Hugely compelling and very emotional this is a dual timeline novel with one house at the centre of it. A tense and relevant psychological drama, with multiple perspectives and a horrifyingly authentic and complex tale at the heart of it. Beautifully done. One to watch in 2022.

  5. 5 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

    A haunting look at two women's lives trapped at the hands of men and the one house that connects them both. Told in a dual timeline and narrative, we get to know Sara, a modern Englishwoman whose husband has uprooted them to move into his childhood home in Northern Ireland. Sara is essentially trapped in this house, with no job, no car and no purpose until an elderly woman shows up one night covered in blood claiming she used to live in the house. This sets off a truly heartbreaking and chilling A haunting look at two women's lives trapped at the hands of men and the one house that connects them both. Told in a dual timeline and narrative, we get to know Sara, a modern Englishwoman whose husband has uprooted them to move into his childhood home in Northern Ireland. Sara is essentially trapped in this house, with no job, no car and no purpose until an elderly woman shows up one night covered in blood claiming she used to live in the house. This sets off a truly heartbreaking and chilling story about women trapped in a house, think "Room" and the family of men who hold them captive. In the present Sara's stuck in a different kind of way by her abusive and controlling husband. I wasn't sure what to expect by this book but I couldn't put it down and the sad thing is that so many women still face problems like this (although maybe not quite to the same extent). Sara's mental health was a weapon her husband used against her rather than something he helped her manage. Highly recommended for fans of dark, captivity mysteries like Room or Local woman missing. Excellent on audio as well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    This is one of those dark fiction books that, as you’re reading, you know for a fact could have really happened, and maybe similar to what happened to any of those people who have disappeared and never been found again. A young bride with an overprotective and abusive husband moves into a beautiful old home with a storied past. Sara begins to dig deeper, thanks to the outside help of their electrician, and the facts are horrible. There has been murder, suicide, and possibly arson at this home. Bu This is one of those dark fiction books that, as you’re reading, you know for a fact could have really happened, and maybe similar to what happened to any of those people who have disappeared and never been found again. A young bride with an overprotective and abusive husband moves into a beautiful old home with a storied past. Sara begins to dig deeper, thanks to the outside help of their electrician, and the facts are horrible. There has been murder, suicide, and possibly arson at this home. But none of those events explain the glimpses and dreams she’s having of various young children who seem to share the home with her. Constantly being badgered by her husband, Damien, as unstable, Sara begins secretly visiting Mary, the elderly woman who once owned the home before a terrible fire forced her into convalescent living. Mary is an extremely interesting and complex character, one that is difficult to fathom, but we know from past crimes in history, one that is sadly very much possible. From Mary, we learn about the family that once owned and worked the farm. I could go on and on about these people, but I would be traipsing on the fine line of a spoiler alert. There’s so much sad and horrible history within the walls of that old home. The life these people lived, either willingly or unwillingly, is the most descriptive, believable, and jaw-dropping part of the book. It’s like reading a true crime, knowing it ends horribly but being unable to Put That Book Down. Yes, sadly, we as humans devour this kind of story, whether we’re willing to admit it or not. I will definitely be reading more from Stuart Neville. Sincere thanks to Soho Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date was September 7, 2021.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Irish author Stuart Neville has been called the “king of Belfast noir.” That said, I am pleased to report that his latest novel, THE HOUSE OF ASHES, is a completely different type of story. Featuring supernatural and even gothic elements in a book fueled by female resilience, this is a huge departure for Neville, a risk that pays off quite handsomely. It begins with a fire. An elderly woman wakes up in the middle of the night and steps into the hallway outside her bedroom. She witnesses a conflag Irish author Stuart Neville has been called the “king of Belfast noir.” That said, I am pleased to report that his latest novel, THE HOUSE OF ASHES, is a completely different type of story. Featuring supernatural and even gothic elements in a book fueled by female resilience, this is a huge departure for Neville, a risk that pays off quite handsomely. It begins with a fire. An elderly woman wakes up in the middle of the night and steps into the hallway outside her bedroom. She witnesses a conflagration of bright flames and is overpowered by the smell of burning wood. Even with her own life in danger, her singular concern is for her children, whom only she can see. There are the howls of the many cats from her home that are perishing in the flames, and it all ends with her prying open her bedroom window and tumbling two stories to the ground. The last thing she claims to see is a young girl dressed in white who is seemingly untouched by the flames that surround her. These events all took place in the recent past, and the house has been rebuilt and purchased by new owners. Sara Keane, originally from England, has been brought there by her overly possessive husband, Damien. Not long after they have moved in, the couple is accosted at their doorstep by a crazed old woman who claims that the house belongs to her. Her name is Mary, and they send her back to the retirement home where she now resides. The book then jumps back and forth between a small group of narrators and within a timeline that spans the present day and all the way back almost half a century. One day, a Mr. Buchanan meets Sara and tells her the dark history of her house, which he refers to as the old Jackson place. He informs her that murders were committed on the farm nearly 60 years earlier, and the village still lives under the ominous shadow of those horrific events. The chapters that take us back in time are from the point of view of three young women, all of whom are prisoners of the trio of evil men who have them trapped within the “House of Ashes,” where Sara and Damien now reside. These narrators are Mary --- the younger version of our elderly lady from the prologue --- Esther and Joy. Their story is a harsh one, and the physical and mental abuse they suffer at the hands of these men who call themselves “their family” is unconscionable. In the present day, Sara has begun seeing specters of the past --- young girls around the banks of the marshy lake on their property. When she chases after them, they submerge into the water, leaving behind what appears to be red ribbons floating on the top skin of the murky water. Sara also is seeking to get out from under the thumb of her overbearing husband, who went so far as to imitate her on a WhatsApp chat with her best friend, Amanda, to learn more about her old boyfriends. Sara ends up befriending Rossi, an electrician who is doing work on their rebuilt home. He witnesses the mental abuse to which she is subjected and gives her his business card if she should ever require help. Sara becomes so interested in the property that she begins doing heavy research into its history and starts visiting Mary at the retirement home for firsthand information. Mary tells Sara, “The house doesn’t matter…. It never mattered. It’s the land. Those children, they’re like the trees all around and the grass in the fields. Those men planted the children there, like seeds. They’re in the ground and they’ll always be there. They’ve always been there. Like me. Always.” This is really creepy stuff but also very telling. THE HOUSE OF ASHES definitely goes there and relies heavily on Stuart Neville’s background as a writer of crime fiction to tell a story that is as moving and inspiring as it is terrifying. Sara and Mary are forever connected by that property and the bad men who have them in their clutches. Their resilience is remarkable and something to truly admire. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue Kelso

    I did not expect to like this book. I usually don't go for any woo woo factor in books. But, once I started reading it, I just kept going and going. Sara and Damien move to Northern Ireland to start over. Sara has had some psychological issues and Damien thinks this will be good for her. One day an old women,Mary, who is hysterical shows up on her door step to ask about the children. Ignoring Damien's disapproval, Sara decides to research the house they are living in, the fire that burned it down I did not expect to like this book. I usually don't go for any woo woo factor in books. But, once I started reading it, I just kept going and going. Sara and Damien move to Northern Ireland to start over. Sara has had some psychological issues and Damien thinks this will be good for her. One day an old women,Mary, who is hysterical shows up on her door step to ask about the children. Ignoring Damien's disapproval, Sara decides to research the house they are living in, the fire that burned it down and the children that Mary mentions. This leads to a friendship with the electrician who is working in their house and he decides to help her with the house mystery and the rapidly disenigrating relationship with Damien. At one point the book takes a surprising turn into violence but the relationship with Damien is the classic story of emotional abuse. A good read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    KC

    Stuart Neville's latest standalone novel is an Irish mystery with a duel timeline. A heinous crime some 60 years unsolved; rumors fly, locals talk without knowing many details. Present day, a young woman and her abusive husband move into the home in which that crime took place. Will she be able to solve the riddle and lay to rest those souls who still haunt so many? For those who enjoy Tana French. Stuart Neville's latest standalone novel is an Irish mystery with a duel timeline. A heinous crime some 60 years unsolved; rumors fly, locals talk without knowing many details. Present day, a young woman and her abusive husband move into the home in which that crime took place. Will she be able to solve the riddle and lay to rest those souls who still haunt so many? For those who enjoy Tana French.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville. Thanks to @sohopress for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When Sara moves to the countryside with her husband, she has no idea about the home’s history. When an old woman comes pounding at her door, she can’t ignore the past. This was one of those stories that has a bit of real life spookiness and paranormal spookiness. I love when the two overlap. There were multiple timelines and POV’s but it was not confusing at all. I loved how everything revealed itself a little The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville. Thanks to @sohopress for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When Sara moves to the countryside with her husband, she has no idea about the home’s history. When an old woman comes pounding at her door, she can’t ignore the past. This was one of those stories that has a bit of real life spookiness and paranormal spookiness. I love when the two overlap. There were multiple timelines and POV’s but it was not confusing at all. I loved how everything revealed itself a little bit at a time from the past, and it affected the current time as well. “Was the wickedness in the soil? Maybe it had always been there, even before the house. Maybe the wicked has seeped up through the soil, like the water did through the floorboards, and maybe it spread its wickedness to them men. Maybe it’s always been there. Maybe it’s still there now.” The House of Ashes comes out 9/7.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    The House of Ashes is a mysterious story of abuse, isolation and emotional ghosts. The storyline was dark and disturbing than I thought it would be but the uncomplicated writing made it easy to read through the chapters. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for these women. Although fiction, the stuff they went through was significantly painful to read. The haunting ghostly parts with underlying meaning were brilliantly written. This sure is one of a kind story, that crime and dark thriller lovers wil The House of Ashes is a mysterious story of abuse, isolation and emotional ghosts. The storyline was dark and disturbing than I thought it would be but the uncomplicated writing made it easy to read through the chapters. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for these women. Although fiction, the stuff they went through was significantly painful to read. The haunting ghostly parts with underlying meaning were brilliantly written. This sure is one of a kind story, that crime and dark thriller lovers will enjoy. Thank you Soho Crime via Netgalley for the arc.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ray Palen

    Irish author Stuart Neville has been called the King of Belfast Noir. Keeping that in mind, I am pleased to say that this stand-alone novel THE HOUSE OF ASHES is a completely different type of story. With supernatural and even gothic elements in a novel fueled by female resilience, this is a huge departure from his typical output and that risk ends up being a big hit for Neville. It begins with a fire. An elderly woman wakes up in the middle of the night and steps into the hallway outside her bed Irish author Stuart Neville has been called the King of Belfast Noir. Keeping that in mind, I am pleased to say that this stand-alone novel THE HOUSE OF ASHES is a completely different type of story. With supernatural and even gothic elements in a novel fueled by female resilience, this is a huge departure from his typical output and that risk ends up being a big hit for Neville. It begins with a fire. An elderly woman wakes up in the middle of the night and steps into the hallway outside her bedroom. She witnesses a conflagration of bright flames and the is overpowered by the smell of burning wood. Even with her own life at risk, her only concern is for her children. Children that only she can see. There are the howls of the many cats from her home that are perishing in the flames and the event ends with the woman prying open her bedroom window and tumbling out of it two stories to the ground with her fall only broken by the bushes below. The last thing she claims to see is a young girl dressed in white who is seemingly untouched by the flames that surround her. These events all took place in the recent past and the house has been rebuilt and purchased by new owners. Sara Keane, originally from England, has been brought there by her overly possessive husband, Damien. Not long after they have moved in, Sara and Damien are accosted at their doorstep by a crazed old woman claiming that the house belongs to her. They learn that the woman’s name is Mary and they have her returned to the retirement home where she now resides. The action of THE HOUSE OF ASHES then jumps back and forth between a small group of narrators and within a timeline that spans the present day and all the way back almost half a century. While shopping in the village one day, a Mr. Buchanan meets Sara and tells her the dark history of the house she lives in which he referred to as the old Jackson place. He informs her that there were killings that took place on the farm there and, even though they took place nearly fifty years earlier, the village still lives under the ominous shadow of those evil events. The chapters that take us back in time are from the point of view of three young women who are all prisoners of the trio of evil men that have them trapped within the ‘House of Ashes’, the same place that burned down and which Sara and Damien now reside in. These narrators are Mary --- the younger version of our elderly woman from the prologue, Esther, and Joy. Their story is a harsh one and the physical and mental abuse they suffer at the hands of these men who call themselves ‘their family’ is unconscionable. Back in the present day, Sara has begun seeing specters of the past --- young girls around the banks of the marshy lake on their property. When she chases after them, they submerge into the water leaving behind what appears to be red ribbons floating on the top skin of the murky water. Sara also is seeking to get out from under the thumb of her overbearing husband who went so far as to imitate her on a WhatsApp chat with her best friend Amanda to learn more about Sara’s old boyfriends. Sara ends up befriending a man named Rossi, an electrician doing work on their rebuilt home, and he witnesses the mental abuse she is subjected to and gives her his business card in the event she should ever require help. Sara becomes so interested in the property that she begins doing heavy research into the history of it and starts visiting Mary at the retirement home for firsthand information. Mary tells Sara: ‘The house doesn’t matter. It never mattered. It’s the land. Those children, they’re like the trees all around and the grass in the fields. Those men planted the children there, like seeds. They’re in the ground and they’ll always be there. They’ve always been there. Like me. Always.’ Real creepy stuff --- but also very telling. Stuart Neville’s THE HOUSE OF ASHES definitely goes there and relies heavily on his background as a writer of crime fiction to use the terrible crimes perpetrated on women and young children to tell a story that is as moving and inspiring as it is terrifying. Sara and Mary are forever connected by that property and the bad men they have the misfortune of being stuck there with. The story of their resilience is remarkable and something to truly admire. Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a creepy, yet very compelling novel about two women set in two different time periods in Northern Ireland. Even though the two women, Sara and Mary, don't seem to be very similar, they both live in households where controlling and abusive men run their lives. Mary is born in the House of Ashes and lives in the basement with her two mommies. The two mommies and Mary work tirelessly to keep house and feed the three men living upstairs. Sixty years later, Sara's husband buys the recently bu This is a creepy, yet very compelling novel about two women set in two different time periods in Northern Ireland. Even though the two women, Sara and Mary, don't seem to be very similar, they both live in households where controlling and abusive men run their lives. Mary is born in the House of Ashes and lives in the basement with her two mommies. The two mommies and Mary work tirelessly to keep house and feed the three men living upstairs. Sixty years later, Sara's husband buys the recently burned-down House of Ashes for him and Sara to make a "fresh start." After Mary shows up at Sara's house claiming to be the rightful owner, Sara begins to understand that her new home has a terrible history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Quite a dark, atmospheric novel about violence and hope. It reminded me a bit of ROOM where woman is locked away and abused by a violent, controlling man and a mother is trying to protect her child. This book does contain a second timeline, approximately 60 years later, that demonstrates some things in our world never change. Thanks to NetGalley and SoHo Books for the ARC to read and review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    This book is very well written, but it is emotionally draining because it is about multiple abusive relationships. It's creepy! Still, this author has talent. I don't like the genre, but that is a matter of personal taste. The book has received many raving reviews. This book is very well written, but it is emotionally draining because it is about multiple abusive relationships. It's creepy! Still, this author has talent. I don't like the genre, but that is a matter of personal taste. The book has received many raving reviews.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Yeah uhhhh not really a fan of books written by men that are literally just about abusing women for 60 years and more. Was hoping for more ghosts, too, so all in all just a disappointing read. Kind of regret sticking it out til the end, as it was tremendously unsatisfying and really just read like a man's fascination in how many ways a certain kind of man can abuse women and get away with it. 0 stars. Yeah uhhhh not really a fan of books written by men that are literally just about abusing women for 60 years and more. Was hoping for more ghosts, too, so all in all just a disappointing read. Kind of regret sticking it out til the end, as it was tremendously unsatisfying and really just read like a man's fascination in how many ways a certain kind of man can abuse women and get away with it. 0 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    Deeply atmospheric and more than a little disturbing. It was a bit short, and I could have done with a smidge more resolution, but that was clearly a choice.

  18. 5 out of 5

    amanda

    it’s a good book and very well written and intriguing but the subject matter is a bit too much for me. there’s a lot of abuse; physical, sexual, emotional and right now I can’t do it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charisse

    This was depressing and frustrating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Stratton

    4⭐️ instead of 5 because I felt Mary’s story in the past was much more real than Sara’s. Her story felt flat.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Peterson

    I went in to reading “The House of Ashes” by Stuart Neville thinking it was a psychological mystery/thriller. While it absolutely has those elements, I think it’s important to note that it can certainly be argued that it also borders on horror. I was scared, disgusted and emotionally rocked. While the present-day timeline read as a mystery/thriller, the timeline taking place fifty some years ago read as a true horror. With that being said, as someone who loves both horror and thrillers, this was I went in to reading “The House of Ashes” by Stuart Neville thinking it was a psychological mystery/thriller. While it absolutely has those elements, I think it’s important to note that it can certainly be argued that it also borders on horror. I was scared, disgusted and emotionally rocked. While the present-day timeline read as a mystery/thriller, the timeline taking place fifty some years ago read as a true horror. With that being said, as someone who loves both horror and thrillers, this was the best of both worlds. Sara Keane moves to her husband Damien’s native Northern Ireland for a clean start after she attempts suicide. In her new home, Sara feels as isolated as ever and can’t escape the nagging feeling that her home holds a dark secret. When a stranger shows up at her door soaked in blood claiming the home is hers, Sara starts digging into the past to see what secrets her husband is keeping from her about their new home. Meanwhile, we get another timeline from multiple women half a century earlier who reveal the haunting, gruesome, terrible things that happened in the home long before Sara moved in. For anyone who struggles with reading stories of physical and psychological abuse, be warned. This one is dark, depressing and painful. If you can handle these types of thrillers then, like me, you won’t be able to put this one down. My only qualm was that it felt a bit short—possibly needing a few more chapters to wrap the ending events. Ultimately, it is a story of resilience, courage, friendship and hope, where women abused at the hands of men fight for their freedom. Thank you to NetGalley and Soho Press for the digital ARC of this book

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Dark. Sad. Not the kind of book I would normally choose to read. However, I was intrigued by the mystery of it all - to see where it was going. When I hear about missing girl's, I will think about this story & wonder. Dark. Sad. Not the kind of book I would normally choose to read. However, I was intrigued by the mystery of it all - to see where it was going. When I hear about missing girl's, I will think about this story & wonder.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    If you’re a fan of Tana French’s The Witch Elm or Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, you will love Stuart Neville’s The House of Ashes. The protagonist, Sara Keane, and her husband have just moved to Northern Ireland from England. Sara is isolated in a new country with no friends, no job and no car. She soon discovers that the house she’s secluded in has a secret history when an old woman shows up at her door claiming to be the owner. Sara decides to investigate and discovers the horrible history buried If you’re a fan of Tana French’s The Witch Elm or Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, you will love Stuart Neville’s The House of Ashes. The protagonist, Sara Keane, and her husband have just moved to Northern Ireland from England. Sara is isolated in a new country with no friends, no job and no car. She soon discovers that the house she’s secluded in has a secret history when an old woman shows up at her door claiming to be the owner. Sara decides to investigate and discovers the horrible history buried beneath her home. The author successfully alternates between Sara, the current homeowner and Mary, the previous owner. As the plot progresses, the reader begins to learn the history and horrors of the events that occurred. The gradual unveiling of the details creates a drama and building suspense. Readers will have a hard time putting this book down. Thank you to NetGalley, Stuart Neville and Soho Press for the advanced readers copy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville is a highly recommended ominous, malevolent novel of psychological suspense. After her nervous breakdown, Sara Keane's husband Damien moved them from England to Northern Ireland into a house called the Ashes that his father bought for them. Damien has been isolating Sara from her friends since the beginning and this move makes that separation complete. Damien is emotionally abusive and threatening to Sara and this has increased over the years. When Mary Jackso The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville is a highly recommended ominous, malevolent novel of psychological suspense. After her nervous breakdown, Sara Keane's husband Damien moved them from England to Northern Ireland into a house called the Ashes that his father bought for them. Damien has been isolating Sara from her friends since the beginning and this move makes that separation complete. Damien is emotionally abusive and threatening to Sara and this has increased over the years. When Mary Jackson, an old woman, pounds on the door one morning claiming that the Ashes is her home and talks about the children, she is taken back to the care facility where she was sent, leaving Sara wondering about the history of the house. Damien dismisses her concerns, but Sara defies him and begins to uncover Mary's past imprisonment at the house as a child and the terrible history of the Ashes. The writing is excellent in this novel, although the actual subject matter of abuse makes it difficult to read. The dual narrative tells two stories set at the Ashes, that of present day Sara and Mary's story from sixty years ago. Sara is experiencing abuse currently, but the abuse Mary experienced and lived through is chilling, horrific, and evil. Tied into both narrative threads are ghostly apparitions. While the abuse Sara is currently experiencing is awful, Mary's story of abuse is the more terrifying, frightening, and nefarious - so much so that at times it is difficult to read. The Both Sara and Mary (as a child) are well developed characters and the dual narratives unfold through their individual points-of-view. Sara's a wounded adult experiencing gaslighting and being manipulated, and controlled by her husband. Mary's story is mainly told through the eyes of a child which in many ways makes it so much more powerful and awful because she literally has no way to escape. The outcomes of both dark narratives are violent but necessary to reach the final denouement. The House of Ashes is an exceptional novel but all the violence and wicked behavior also makes it emotionally draining. 4.5 rounded down. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Soho Press/ Penguin Random House. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/0...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Briggs

    The House of Horror. This is a great book for Halloween, there are ghost children living between the floor and the walls, children who hate the light, children who never hat a chance at life, a beautiful young teenage girl living in the river, wearing a pretty white dress with yellow ribbons. When it is dark she invites passers by to come and join her. The book is set in Bath, England and Northern Ireland. The book contains much brutality, especially toward women. The story is told by several dif The House of Horror. This is a great book for Halloween, there are ghost children living between the floor and the walls, children who hate the light, children who never hat a chance at life, a beautiful young teenage girl living in the river, wearing a pretty white dress with yellow ribbons. When it is dark she invites passers by to come and join her. The book is set in Bath, England and Northern Ireland. The book contains much brutality, especially toward women. The story is told by several different lady characters over a period of about sixty years. The story begins with Sara and Damien Keane. The couple have moved to Northern Ireland where Damien is from. Their courtship and marriage is a typical story of abuse. Damien gets violent when he feels Sara is looking at other men. Then he apologizes, tells her how much he loves her, sends flowers. He causes her to stop seeing the group of girls she has so much fun with. He doesn't approve of them. Her very best friend, Amanda, tries to get her to end the relationship, but she loves him. Young and stupid. When in Northern Ireland, at the old house his father has given the couple, she is left alone most of the day. There are no neighbors, she knows no one, she has no car. Early one morning, an old lady beats at the door. She states this is her house, she wants it back. She is badly needed here. There are spots on the stone floor, blood spots she scrubs away, but the spots return. Horrible events have occurred in this old, old house. Back in time, there lived in this house, a little girl named Mary. Mary was born in this house, has never been any other place and wonders so much about the outside world. The little girl has two mummies and three daddies. The little girl are two women are treated like slaves, must wait hand and foot on these three ugly, big, coarse men. They are beaten frequently. The men are always beating each other up. Four, because the book is well written, but contains so much violence. But events like this are true and occur much too often

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Thomas

    The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville 9781616957414 305 Pages: Publisher: Soho Press / Soho Crime Release Date: September 7, 2021 Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Thriller, Domestic Violence, Kidnapping, Ghosts Could a house be evil or is it just the people that live there? There are two stories happening within the book. Mary Jackson grew up in this house without knowing the outside world. When a fire happens, she is deemed incapable of caring for herself and is moved to a care home. Francie Keane bought his The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville 9781616957414 305 Pages: Publisher: Soho Press / Soho Crime Release Date: September 7, 2021 Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Thriller, Domestic Violence, Kidnapping, Ghosts Could a house be evil or is it just the people that live there? There are two stories happening within the book. Mary Jackson grew up in this house without knowing the outside world. When a fire happens, she is deemed incapable of caring for herself and is moved to a care home. Francie Keane bought his son, Damien, and daughter-in-law, Sara, a house - Mary's house.One morning, Sara is in the kitchen when an old woman bangs on the window and starts yelling at her. Mary believes it is still her home and wants Sara to leave. Damien hears the fuss and takes Mary back to the care home. This experience upsets Sara and makes her question everything. They had moved to the house in Northern Ireland from England after she had a mental breakdown, quit her job as a social worker, and left her family and friends. Damien is her husband, or should I say keeper. He has a strong emotional hold over her and she feels helpless until she meets Mary. This book is disturbing but I could not stop reading it. Some people do not realize that domestic violence does not have to be physical as in Sara’s case. Mary’s story about growing up in the house is horrific to say the least but I am sure this type of thing happens all the time. The book is written in third person point of view from multiple perspectives. The characters are very developed, and the story is fast paced. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys mysteries and survivor stories.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Howard

    In THE HOUSE OF ASHES, by Stuart Neville, a haunting visit by a stranger unnerves Sara Keane to the point that she is compelled to find out about this woman who claims to have once lived in Sara's house. As Sara begins to unravel the truth of the stranger's claims, Sara discovers her husband, Damien, and his family have knowingly hidden the truth behind the house that they now live in. The stranger's story reaches back sixty years and yet Sara's plight and the stranger's plight are eerily simil In THE HOUSE OF ASHES, by Stuart Neville, a haunting visit by a stranger unnerves Sara Keane to the point that she is compelled to find out about this woman who claims to have once lived in Sara's house. As Sara begins to unravel the truth of the stranger's claims, Sara discovers her husband, Damien, and his family have knowingly hidden the truth behind the house that they now live in. The stranger's story reaches back sixty years and yet Sara's plight and the stranger's plight are eerily similar. But the question is: How did the story end for the stranger and will Sara fare any different? The book is a dark and depressing mystery. While reading, it became clear that there was going to be little or no redemptive ending. Sara and Mary(the stranger that visits at the beginning of the book) are both women who have been dominated by men for years, probably for their whole lives. There is no explanation or exploration into why Sara ever loved her husband and it leaves the reader wondering why she was ever attracted to him. Maybe she was just attracted to being married, but that makes her seem unrealistically weak. Mary's story is more believable and therefore the reader feels her more. Neville does do a good job creating a dark mood throughout the book and there are some good surprise reveals throughout. The dark mystery left me wanting a little more, but nevertheless, I did enjoy reading THE HOUSE OF ASHES. Thank you to Soho Press/Soho Crime, Stuart Neville, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  28. 5 out of 5

    UKDana

    Sara and her husband Damien relocate to Ireland, moving into a farmhouse undergoing renovation that has been bought for them by Damien's father. The farmhouse is called "The Ashes" because of all the ash trees surrounding it. Early one morning, only a couple of days after moving in, an old woman turns up claiming the house is hers. We then have two parallel stories. The old woman, Mary, lived at the farmhouse as a child. Slowly we discover the harrowing story of Mary's upbringing. Sixty years ago Sara and her husband Damien relocate to Ireland, moving into a farmhouse undergoing renovation that has been bought for them by Damien's father. The farmhouse is called "The Ashes" because of all the ash trees surrounding it. Early one morning, only a couple of days after moving in, an old woman turns up claiming the house is hers. We then have two parallel stories. The old woman, Mary, lived at the farmhouse as a child. Slowly we discover the harrowing story of Mary's upbringing. Sixty years ago the farm was owned by a father and his two sons. These men kidnapped at least three women and kept them locked in the farmhouse. The women lived in squalor, doing all of the cooking and cleaning, beaten if they did anything wrong. They were forced to sleep with the men and as a result became pregnant, Mary was the only child to survive. Alongside Mary's story we discover that Sara's home life is equally harrowing. Sara's story is one of coercive control and emotional abuse. Her husband slowly isolates her from all her friends, controls her finances and monitors her phone. Stuart Neville shows that abuse isn't simply physical, it can be far more subtle, Damien's constant reminders to his wife that everything he does is for her benefit and that he loves her make your skin crawl. As for Mary's story, I was shocked as it dawned on me that sixty years isn't actually that long ago. This is a griping read, you simply want to know what happens to all the characters. The interwoven stories move with pace and you are willing on the female characters on.

  29. 5 out of 5

    UKDana

    Sara and her husband Damien relocate to Ireland, moving into a farmhouse undergoing renovation that has been bought for them by Damien's father. The farmhouse is called "The Ashes" because of all the ash trees surrounding it. Early one morning, only a couple of days after moving in, an old woman turns up claiming the house is hers. We then have two parallel stories. The old woman, Mary, lived at the farmhouse as a child. Slowly we discover the harrowing story of Mary's upbringing. Sixty years ago Sara and her husband Damien relocate to Ireland, moving into a farmhouse undergoing renovation that has been bought for them by Damien's father. The farmhouse is called "The Ashes" because of all the ash trees surrounding it. Early one morning, only a couple of days after moving in, an old woman turns up claiming the house is hers. We then have two parallel stories. The old woman, Mary, lived at the farmhouse as a child. Slowly we discover the harrowing story of Mary's upbringing. Sixty years ago the farm was owned by a father and his two sons. These men kidnapped at least three women and kept them locked in the farmhouse. The women lived in squalor, doing all of the cooking and cleaning, beaten if they did anything wrong. They were forced to sleep with the men and as a result became pregnant, Mary was the only child to survive. Alongside Mary's story we discover that Sara's home life is equally harrowing. Sara's story is one of coercive control and emotional abuse. Her husband slowly isolates her from all her friends, controls her finances and monitors her phone. Stuart Neville shows that abuse isn't simply physical, it can be far more subtle, Damien's constant reminders to his wife that everything he does is for her benefit and that he loves her make your skin crawl. As for Mary's story, I was shocked as it dawned on me that sixty years isn't actually that long ago. This is a griping read, you simply want to know what happens to all the characters. The interwoven stories move with pace and you are willing on the female characters on.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I have been following Mr Neville's work since finishing The Ghosts of Belfast and I am a big fan of his work. I read a review of The House of Ashes in the NYT, so I knew that this novel would differ from his prior books, except for the setting in NI. Perhaps even worse than civil war and sectarian violence, this book delves into the more chilling inter-generational effects of child abuse and domestic violence. I spent nearly 45 years in a career that involved both of these related dynamics and I I have been following Mr Neville's work since finishing The Ghosts of Belfast and I am a big fan of his work. I read a review of The House of Ashes in the NYT, so I knew that this novel would differ from his prior books, except for the setting in NI. Perhaps even worse than civil war and sectarian violence, this book delves into the more chilling inter-generational effects of child abuse and domestic violence. I spent nearly 45 years in a career that involved both of these related dynamics and I can attest that his depiction of these horrors is frighteningly accurate and not at all exaggerated for literary effect. I typically avoid art that deals with violence against children and domestic partners because I saw too much of it in my work, but Mr Neville has written a book that I could not put down once I began down its grim and violent path. This is a gothic tale with aspects of the supernatural as the trauma and evil of the past are perpetuated in the house from the title. For Neville fans, this book will not disappoint, as his gift for storytelling is amply demonstrated. For new readers, this book stands alone without any ties to his previous books and should be an incentive to read his other stories, starting with TGOB, which is somewhat reminiscent of this book with the use of phantasms as a plot device. I recommend this dark, but excellent, book.

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