Friday Favorite – The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan

Looking for something to read over the weekend? Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?

Take a look at my Friday Favorite. It may be new. It may be old. It may be written by a famous author, or by someone you have never heard of. But wherever in the spectrum it falls, it will be a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

I have only just finished The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan. It was published at the beginning of the month, and is simply an extraordinary read. I will never delete this from my Kindle. In fact, I shall buy a hard copy and put it on my ‘treasured reads’ shelf. I love it that much.

The Dead House by Billy O'Callaghan
The Dead House 

Billy O’Callaghan (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


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, not a call. And that frightens me more than anything else. Because something is here, and running now is not an option. I’ve already lost a lot, but there’s always more to lose.

That’s why I’m afraid.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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 her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out an Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go.

Ireland is a country haunted by its past. In Billy O’Callaghan’s hands, its terrible beauty becomes a force of inescapable horror that reaches far back in time, before the Famine, before Christianity, to a pagan place where nature and superstition are bound in an endless knot.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The past will not remain the past’. It is always a part of you, and wherever you go, it goes with you. It is always there in the shadowy corners of your mind, lurking, waiting for a moment of weakness, to take advantage and burst upon your present life, bringing with it all the things you would rather forget.

Billy O’Callaghan’s writing is magical, lyrical, gentle with menace. He is an artist who paints pictures with his words, a voice whispering in my ear as I read. He held me spellbound with The Dead House. This passage from the book describes the effect his writing has on me, beautifully – ‘It’s just here, in my head. Pictures, words. I can see it. It’s difficult to explain. I feel as if it’s being whispered to me. I don’t hear a voice, not exactly, but I feel it.’

The Dead House is incredibly atmospheric. It’s not a scary book, not horror. But it has something, something almost indefinable, a gentle lurking menace. It is the sort of book that is unsettling, more than anything. The sort of book that will have you catching glimpses of movement from the corner of your eye, but then, when you turn, there is nothing there. Nothing that you can see. . .

I was sad to finish this, bereft even. This is O’Callaghan’s only novel to date. He has, however, published three collections of short stories which are about to grace my shelves.

Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing, Arcade Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Author: sandysbookaday

I love good quality chocolate. I love the ocean and love to be in, on or beside it. I read any and every where. I am a proud mum and Nana. I like wine, gin, Southern Comfort, a cold Heineken on a hot day. I am very versatile like that. I cross stitch, do jigsaws, garden, and work on a farm. I am an occasional scribbled. I have far too many books I want to read to ever find the time to die. I am an active member of Goodreads as Sandy *the world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* and review on Amazon under the name Sandyj21. My Goodreads reviews are automatically linked to my Facebook page. Groups I belong to and participate in on Goodreads include: The Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group; Mysteries and Crime Thrillers; Psychological Thrillers; Reading for Pleasure; Crime Detective Mystery Thrillers; English Mysteries; Dead Good Crime; Kindle English Mystery, All About Books and NZ Readers. April 2016 I made the Top 1% of Goodreads reviewers (As follows) Hello Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*, In our community of readers, you stand out in a notable way: You're one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! With every rave and every pan, with every excited GIF and every critical assessment, you've helped the Goodreads community get closer to a very important milestone – the 50 Million Reviews mark!

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