Attempting to rebuild her life after a violent relationship, Maggie Turner, a successful young artist, moves from London to Allihies and buys an ancient abandoned cottage. Keen to concentrate on her art, she is captivated by the wild beauty of her surroundings.
After renovations, she hosts a house-warming weekend for friends. A drunken game with a Ouija board briefly descends into something more sinister, as Maggie apparently channels a spirit who refers to himself simply as 'The Master'. The others are visibly shaken, but the day after the whole thing is easily dismissed as the combination of suggestion and alcohol.
Maggie immerses herself in her painting, but the work devolves, day by day, until her style is no longer recognisable. She glimpses things, hears voices, finds herself drawn to certain areas: a stone circle in the nearby hills, the reefs at the west end of the beach behind her home ... A compelling modern ghost story from a supremely talented writer.
From the Costa Short Story Award Finalist, Billy O'Callaghan.
‘a welcome voice to the pantheon of new Irish writing’ - Edna O’Brien
O'Callaghan slowly unsettles the reader, line by line, as reality is questioned ... skilfully conjures up a sense of dread, while at the same time creating a psychological internal terror for his characters ... a superb debut novel from an extremely skilled Irish writer Evening Echo the all-nighter read ... from the very first chapter, there's an eerily beautiful stillness to Billy O'Callaghan's debut ... an engrossing, striking debut from an Irish talent Image Magazine beautifully eerie tale, a feast for your eyes, a torment for your mind. The exquisite cover immediately called to me, I found myself bewitched and reaching out to touch it. A house sits at the centre of this tale, a house bought as a means to escape, to reconnect, to exist at one with the surroundings. Michael invites us to listen to a story, and he paints a picture for you to taste, to feel. The descriptions are striking, particularly of the people, filling my eye and mind with their essence. Yet a trickle of unease hovers over the pages, encouraging thoughts to flicker, leaving you teetering on the edge of fear. Billy O'Callaghan writes with a skilfully light touch, this isn't a terrifying, afraid to sit in the dark tale, it's more subtle than that, instead it will creep inside minds, slice a little space for itself, and take up residence. 'The Dead House', with a shiver-inducing final few pages, is a wonderfully mesmerising read, and I loved it Lovereading a skilfull, entertaining piece of work: a traditional ghost story in the best possible sense ... The Dead House fulfils its formal obligations with subtlety and grace ... in particular, Michaels' voice ... affords considerable readerly pleasure ... O'Callaghan's descriptive prose reaches impressive heights Sunday Business Post Busy week for book delivery but this one wins best cover @OBrienPress -- RTE's Arts correspondent Sinead Crowley A moving work that builds to an elegiac climax and is a welcome voice to the pantheon of new Irish writing. -- Edna O'Brien I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault ... O'Callaghan is a treasure of the English language. Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind [is a] masterclass in understatement Dermot Bolger, Irish Independent moments of insight and profundity which could only come from the mind of one who has known intimately the heartache and loss experienced by the characters he writes about ... superlative writing Writerful Books, Australia