Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing The Abandoned House by Karen Hollis. Before I get into the review, I’d like to say a massive thank you to her for kindly sending me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Abandoned House follows the protagonist, Rebecca, who visits an abandoned house with her photographer friend Max, who is doing a photography competition. During several visits to the house, Rebecca has some strange encounters with a ghost which only she can see. Will she get to the bottom of the mystery, or will it be too late?
This was a really quick and great read, and once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing in just over an hour, whizzing through the pages to find out what happened next! I have to admit that the ending, although dark, was immensely satisfying and I really loved the way Karen resolved the story. It was nice seeing the character’s find out the truth about what really happened and the horrors that had went had happened in the house.
Throughout the novella, there were lots of flashbacks to Rebecca’s dancing and ballet, which I found really fun to read. I’ve never been much of a dancer but I’ve always held great respect for them and I really enjoyed reading the beginnings of Rebecca’s career – which was, unfortunately, cut short when she was still very young.
I also really enjoyed Elizabeth’s (the ghost’s) story. Karen included two different stories – Rebecca’s and Elizabeth’s – and, although I enjoyed them both, I think I’d have to say I preferred Elizabeth. What she went through was truly horrific and I needed to know what happened next. The novella, although short, was incredibly dark (a list of triggers can be found at the end of this review) and I really enjoyed it.
Of course, parts of Rebecca’s story balanced this darkness out, particularly the parts exploring her relationship with Max. I really liked Max’s character too – he was very likeable and clearly cared about Rebecca a lot. Their dates were really cute and provided some relief to the darker parts, as well as adding another dimension to the book.
I also really liked the references to covid and the pandemic. I feel like this is quite a small thing to pick up on but I don’t think I’ve actually read any other books that have mentioned the pandemic, even in passing. There were only a few references but I still found it really interesting!
However, despite all of that there was just something missing for me. As much as I liked Rebecca and Max together I would’ve liked to see more of them at the abandoned house and more spooky moments there. Having said that, it did provide some contemporary aspects, so I wouldn’t let this put you off!
Overall, I would recommend The Abandoned House to anyone looking for a quick entertaining mystery. I would also recommend it to anyone with a taste for the paranormal, as that was a major theme in this book.
However, please be mindful that this book has a lot of trigger warnings: sexual assault, alcoholism, rape (not graphic), drugs/alcohol abuse, death and death of a child.
I hope you enjoyed this review!