I picked this book up some ago in my local Borders after being hooked by the beautiful cover. The title, together with the synopsis marked it out as the kind of unsettling and atmospheric chiller I usually love, so into the basket it went, and off to the checkout. I had never heard of author F. G Cottam before, so after a little googling and realising he was formerly in the lad-mag industry, I must admit my hopes for this novel dimmed considerably. Unfortunately, the opening chapter of the book did little to change my preconceptions. I found it muddled and the writing rather poor, and I did consider abandoning it there and then. However, I pressed on with it and was pleased to discover that as the plot progressed I really engaged with the story.
The novel revolves around the mysterious Fischer House, a brooding edifice on the Isle of Wight and the scene of dark deeds and paranormal events. The author skilfully weaves narratives from the present day, the 1980's and the 1920's as we meet various characters and learn how their lives are changed by their involvement with the Fischer House. Add in lots of period detail, elements of black magic, the supernatural and even the historical figures of Dennis Wheatley and Aleister Crowley who appear as characters, The House of Lost Souls is a creepy, understated thriller. Admittedly, the climax of the novel rather frustrated me as I felt it seemed a bit rushed and did not do the story justice in my opinion. Despite feeling a bit cheated at the end I enjoyed the tale overall and will probably give the author another go with one of his other books.
The House of Lost Souls is not a masterpiece and is unlikely to reinvent the genre, but if you like an unsettling read with a welcome absence of blood and gore you could do worse than to pick up a copy.