As the tale begins Michael is retired and lives with his wife Alison and their daughter on the coast of Cornwall. He weaves the story of Maggie, a friend from the past, who had moved to Ireland and becomes attracted to a cottage that was built around the time of the famine. It is both isolated and in disrepair and yet Maggie wants it desperately. She, with Michael’s’ help, buys the cottage and sets about it fixing it up. When the friends come to visit Maggie, they become involved in a random game with a Ouija board and seem to tap into some kind of energy, a spirit who asks in Gaelic “can I come in?” Of course initially, they all think that there is some hoax going on, that one of them is pushing the glass around answering questions they ask and the words that are spelt out. It is all fun right until the point that it isn’t. They all feel a sense of unease, a sense of awareness, a sense of unreality. It is foolishness they feel and leave the cottage the next day wondering what had really happened. They leave Maggie and each of them tries to come to terms with what happened and maintain contact with Maggie in the distant land she has chosen to live. For a time Maggie keeps up with her friends but then all contact ceases and Michael, worried about Maggie decides to go to Ireland and check on her.
Events take a sinister turn and lives, especially that of Maggie’s are affected. The story continues as Michael brings us up to the present day and leaves the reader with a sense of unease and a feeling that the spirit world is definitely a possibility.
I am not really a ghost story reader. However, this story was told so well. Mr O’Callaghan draws you into this tale as he weaves a narrative that might be considered a psychological look at how our minds can be manipulated into believing, and yet, what he has written just might be so. The tale is mesmerizing, eerie, and mysterious enough to make it a novel that is hard to push aside. It leaves the reader with just the right amount of that fear of the unknown, where it is best to leave well enough alone and not dwell upon the what if of the possibility that an evil presence is perhaps in our midst.
Thank you to Billy O’Calaghan in his debut novel who managed to capture me with his writing, Skyhorse Publising, and NetGalley for making this novel available to me.
― Rémy de Gourmont