House of Lost Souls - F Cottam first off, although there is an Evil House at its center, this is not a haunted house story, not really. it is rather the tale of two men pitted against ghosts of the distant past and the evils those ghosts have conjured up. and a rather starry set of ghosts they are, as they feature such celebrities as Aleister Crowley and Dennis Wheatley. the narrative moves all over place, through various locales and backwards in time as well. but outside of the climax, very little time is actually spent within the house in question, at least in its modern and ghost-ridden incarnation.

Cottam is an effective writer and the novel is a good one. he's also a classy writer, one who puts characterization before special effects, so I was spared a lot of eye-rolling. the novel recovers from a rather risible start (sorry, the image of a soldier dressed in his camouflage gear as he spies on a funeral made me snort a little) but other issues come in to play. mainly minor: a tiring over-reliance on dropping the names of oh so many songs and a tendency to include details that have nothing to do with anything whatsoever. one major issue: he leaves a couple very important scenes out - scenes that would have strengthened the novel. I suppose I understand why we don't get to witness the 4 girls and their prof's experience at the scary Fisher House that drive the narrative forward (but gosh that would have been awesome); I am more perplexed at why we don't see a very important confrontation and death happen at the end - it's like the author didn't care enough about that character.

but despite the flaws, I still liked this one. several reviewers did not appreciate how the novel jumped all over the place, but I thought that was one of the novel's strengths. I would have loved to have read a story about people stuck in a haunted house - but that's just not this novel and it is certainly not the novel's fault that it wanted to be something else! demon-hunting in Africa, a sad visit to a Welsh village, flashbacks to college life in 80s London... I enjoyed all of that and thought it was well-executed. I especially liked the very lengthy flashbacks to the 20s (I think that was the era). the story of photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare's misadventures with a group of dastardly satanists were my favorite parts. poor, brave Pandora!


musical accompaniment

Alice Coltrane: Journey in Satchidananda
talkdemonic: mutinysunshine
Jimmy Scott: All the Way