Neil Spring's three previous novels have been bestselling, and genuinely frightening, ghost stories. This fourth novel sees Spring move into supernatural thriller territory, and it has plenty of chilling moments to make sure you sleep with the lights on, and it may be a while before you set foot in a butcher's shop again.
The true story of Boleskine House at Loch Ness is the basis of the story and Neil has used the history of the house and the famous legend of the Loch to create a cast of characters whose lives are shaped by superstition, the unexplained and a hope for something otherworldly to tell a truly terrifying story of the lengths people are prepared to go to stay alive.
Protagonist, Clara Jones, is a damaged woman who has suffered immensely at the hands of her violent husband. She has escaped London for Scotland in the hope of a fresh start. Unfortunately, her nightmares continue when she meets the charismatic new owner of Boleskine House. We're rooting for Clara from the very beginning and Spring drops hints that despite her despair, there is a sense she is not defeated. She's a strong, gutsy woman with plenty of fight in her.
One of the things I love about Neil's writing is that he's not afraid to take risks and he doesn't hold back when it comes to killing off a likeable character or throw in something most bizarre and outlandish that, in the hands of a lesser writer, would be poorly executed and descend into melodrama. Spring knows his audience. He's an intelligent writer and he respects the reader to know that knowledge is power and everything has an explanation, no matter how strange the situation.
'The Burning House' is a page turner of a thriller and there are some wonderfully written set pieces that will have you reading long into the night. The finale is a dramatic, visual and unpredictable affair. This is crying out for a big screen adaptation.
If you have yet to read any of Neil Spring's novels, start with this one, then read his others. His style of prose puts him up there with James Herbert and Stephen King.