Review: “In the Shadow of Spindrift House,” Mira Grant

Pros: Sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go!
Cons: If anything I would have liked even more buildup
Rating: 5 out of 5

Mira Grant’s (novella? Short novel?) In the Shadow of Spindrift House is a most bizarre combination of Lovecraftian cosmic horror and friends-on-an-adventure. But it WORKS!

Harlowe’s parents were killed when she was just four years old, and after living with her grandparents for a time, she moved in with her best friend/”brother” Kevin. The two of them, with their other friends Addison and Andy, formed the “Adventure Squad”. The squad has graduated high school, and they’re struggling–it’s really time for them to go their separate ways, but they want to continue with their investigations, on a professional level now. To do that, however, they need money. And Harlowe has an idea. There’s a reward offered for staying in Spindrift House in Maine and discovering which of three families actually owns the house. The house is of course haunted, and others have tried to claim the reward, only to die for their troubles. The Adventure Squad decides to take on at least this one last mission, and packs their bags and heads from Chicago to Maine. What Harlowe really cares about is the fact that one of the three families who believe they own the house is her mother’s family–and she’s still hoping to find out why her parents were killed.

Humanity has sacrificed so much on the altar of geometry, sacrificing eons untold to the mathematical aberration of the straight line, the perfect angle.

Spindrift House is fascinating. There are multiple stories of who built it and why, and they all end with someone throwing themselves from the widow’s walk. It’s very much a character of its own. I would have liked a bit more buildup in the house, but the story is still fantastic without that. Each character has a different experience of the house, and things start to go wrong almost right away. There’s plenty of tension around each turn!

Harlowe is gay. There’s no sexual content in this book–it’s as chaste as a YA novel. There is death, but not much gore. The dynamics in the group are wonderful. Harlowe has a huge crush on Addison. She also has a very strong sister/brother bond with Kevin. Each teen has their own role in the group. I love the fact that this story takes the trope of teen detectives and asks, what happens when they have to grow up?

I got so sucked into this book that when I finished, I looked up from my Kindle and was no longer certain whether it was morning, afternoon, or night, nor even what day of the week it was. That’s a huge compliment to Ms. Grant. This is an utterly entrancing stand-alone novel.

These things are true: the widow’s walk waits; the spiders sigh; and Spindrift House is calling its children home.

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