A Good House for Children: A Novel (Hardcover)
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"A feminist gothic that evokes Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House." -- New York Times Book Review
Once upon a time Orla was: a woman, a painter, a lover. Now she is a mother and a wife, and when her husband Nick suggests that their city apartment has grown too small for their lives, she agrees, in part because she does agree, and in part because she is too tired to think about what she really does want. She agrees again when Nick announces with pride that he has found an antiquated Georgian house on the Dorset cliffs—a good house for children, he says, tons of space and gorgeous grounds. But as the family settles into the mansion—Nick absent all week, commuting to the city for work—Orla finds herself unsettled. She hears voices when no one is around; doors open and close on their own; and her son Sam, who has not spoken in six months, seems to have made an imaginary friend whose motives Orla does not trust.
Four decades earlier, Lydia moves into the same house as a live-in nanny to a grieving family. Lydia, too, becomes aware of intangible presences in the large house, and she, like Orla four decades later, becomes increasingly fearful for the safety of the children in her care. But no one in either woman’s life believes her: the stories seem fanciful, the stuff of magic and mayhem, sprung from the imaginations of hysterical women who spend too much time in the company of children.
Are both families careening towards tragedy? Are Orla and Lydia seeing things that aren’t there? What secrets is the house hiding? A feminist gothic tale perfectly suited for the current moment, A Good House for Children combines an atmospheric mystery with resonant themes of motherhood, madness, and the value of a woman’s work.
About the Author
Kate Collins is a writer of long-form and short fiction. From West Cork, Ireland, she now lives and works in Oxfordshire. A Good House for Children is her debut novel.
"A feminist gothic that evokes Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House." — New York Times Book Review
"The dream house in the country is a fictional standard for illuminating the realities of women’s domestic life; when the dream turns to nightmare, it’s the perfect setting for horror... Atmospheric and beautifully written, A Good House for Children builds slowly but surely into a terrifying ghost story." — Guardian
"[Will] go down a treat for all of those (numerous) readers with tastes straddling what passes for "literary fiction" and good old, deeply satisfying horror. It has a little bit of all things not very nice that make up a page-turning popular novel, without resorting to moral simplicity or predictability. It's a highly readable book that still inspires more questions than it answers - which is impressive, for being so rare...More than once, I was put in mind of The Turn of the Screw." — Irish Times
"Collins skillfully intercuts the two storylines, making clever use of structure to maximize tension, resonance, and fright, while the familiar setup fools readers into thinking they know what path the plot will follow. A moody, evocative, close-third narrative underscores the keenly rendered characters’ mounting distress and claustrophobia. A harrowing slow burn with feminist undertones." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An engrossing read. ... A neat mix of psychological thriller and old-fashioned haunted house drama." — Daily Mail (London)
"Utterly compelling, creepy and dark." — Irish Examiner
"That this is Collins's debut is astonishing. Her writing is well-crafted and takes us from the real to surreal and back again with ease. Keep the lights on and ignore any odd noises you hear." — Irish Independent
"Fans of gothic fiction will appreciate this tale reminiscent of Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key." — Booklist
A stunning debut... A terrifying and propulsive gothic story with so much to say about parenthood, privilege and the psychological burden of motherhood. I was utterly mesmerised by it and found it so unsettling that I had to keep the lights on! ... Incredibly accomplished and original." — Katherine Faulkner, author of Greenwich Park
"Collins intertwines the tales of Orla and Lydia, who have each lived in the Reeve: a house subject to haunting, but also a place where boundaries blur . . . between different times, but also of the sense of reality and the other, and ultimately, the edge of sanity itself. A beautifully written, creepy tale reminiscent of Shirley Jackson." — Alison Littlewood, author of A Cold Season
"Equally terrifying and brilliant, Kate Collins' claustrophobic gothic tale of motherhood, sacrifice, and loss, captured my attention from eerie beginning to unforgettable end—-a read-in-one-sitting triumph of storytelling." — Ashley Tate, author of Twenty-Seven Minutes