THE GENERAL THEORY OF HAUNTING
K&K Publishing reserve Marryman Hall as a last resort for a New Years Eve party, but as the snow draws in only 6 colleagues make it to the house. The oddly designed house is beautiful but it seems to hold a sinister purpose; there’s echoing footsteps in the hallways, strange figures in the dark and not everything is at it appears.
The General Theory of Haunting is at heart a traditional ghost story, however it does have a nice scientific twist that brings something new to the table. The story itself does bury itself in the usual haunted house tropes which it does tend to self-reference but doesn’t really do anything about. The characters all seem to have very similar ways of dealing with fear – they all don’t want to look at what is hiding in the darkness as that would make it a reality. Whereas this is quite a sensible response, the scenes were written so similarly it became hard to distinguish between the characters in these moments. The use of flash-backs to Francis Marryman building the Hall are used well and the narrative technique of ending a chapter in the present with a phrase and then mirroring it in the start of the flash-back chapter was a nice touch.
Only having 7 characters really added to the claustrophobic air and should have given a nice opportunity for character development and backstory exposition. However, whilst Anne and Lucy are very well rounded characters with interesting motives and backgrounds, the others seemed to blend into the background. Paula, Gregg and Dan in particular just seemed a prop to the more interesting character in their pair. This may be because this book is part of the ‘Snow Trilogy’ – a trilogy with standalone stories that are all tenuously linked in some way. The author, Richard Easter explains that ‘minor characters in one book become major protagonists in another’ which may explain why this is the case but for a book that is stand-alone in it’s own right and with so few actual characters it seems a bit of a shame.
The plot itself is also quite obvious, the blurb synopsis and the first few chapters dispelled any minor twists throughout the first ¾ of the book. The ending did have a nice twist but the book hinted a bit too strongly at it way before the reveal which ruined the surprise.
Although I don’t usually mention formatting in ARC reviews, this book is already out and on sale for the Kindle on Amazon and so I must say that the copy I received was badly formatted. There were a lot of missing spaces, bad paragraph breaks and odd fonts. This may have been corrected for the for-sale copy but a few Amazon reviews hint that it hasn’t. It is a shame to see this as it did hinder my enjoyment as a reader and it would be an easy thing to fix.
Overall The General Theory of Haunting is a nice traditional ghost story that brings something new to the table with a few great characters. However, the other characters being under-developed and its willingness to give its secrets and twists away too easily let it down. Thank you to NetGalley and Endeavour Press for giving me a copy of The General Theory of Haunting in exchange for an honest review.