After a tough several months, Ben Tierney and his wife Caroline relocate with their two young sons to the picturesque community of Swannhaven which is also Ben’s ancestral home. They purchase a huge, rundown mansion which is on a 1,000 acre estate, hoping to renovate it and turn it into a bed and breakfast. “The Crofts” and the village itself however come with some horrifying secrets, ones that will impact the Tierneys in ways that they could not have foreseen.
House of Echoes is a debut novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. Brendan Duffy has a beautifully descriptive way of writing and when you add that to a plot rich in atmosphere, well, that’s probably why I finished this 400 page book in one day. Although most of the novel is set during the present day, the story has an almost gothic feel to it. Interspersed throughout are short chapters in which old letters dating back to the Revolutionary War from one of Ben’s ancestors, detail the traumatic winter which actually sets everything that follows in motion. Slightly reminiscent of The Shining, the story has enough originality that I didn’t mind the similarities at all. Except for the baby (Bub), the Tierneys are all struggling with inner demons. Caroline has just been diagnosed with Bipolar and has lost her longtime banking job, eight-year old Charlie has been traumatized by bullies at his previous school, and Ben, who is a novelist, is suffering from writer’s block and is trying desperately to be there for his family. Not surprisingly the family needs to come together before they can face the true horror that’s at the center of the plot. Some readers may find the pacing a little slow, but I found it added to the suspense because it was obvious that something was very wrong with this seemingly idyllic community and it was just a matter of time before the terrifying truth was revealed. The only thing I had a problem with were some scenes featuring graphic animal deaths. These were difficult to read so I wound up skimming them. While I wouldn’t call House of Echoes groundbreaking, I think it’s a very promising start for a new author. I’m looking forward to Brendan Duffy’ s next book.