The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan

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My review of The Dead House (Brandon) by Billy O’Callaghan appears in today’s Sunday Business Post Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

In many ways, the ghost story is as traditional a literary form as the sonnet. There must be a skeptical narrator (check), a haunted edifice (check) with a history of violence (check), an ill-thought-through attempt to communicate with the dead (check), peculiar behaviour (check), characters who are receptive to messages from the spirit-world (check), and – most difficult of all to handle – a sense that the deepest truths are just out of sight, beyond the narrator’s (and the reader’s) ken. O’Callaghan – who has already published three collections of short fiction – handles each of these elements with restrained aplomb. “Traditional,” when it comes to ghost stories, is not a term of disapprobation, and The Dead House fulfils its formal obligations with subtlety and grace […] O’Callaghan’s descriptive prose reaches impressive heights, as when Michael notices “in one of the two small bedrooms [of the cottage] the whitened remnants of something bigger, a dog or fox, but now just a kindling of bones splayed in the natural order of its undisturbed collapse.”


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