A suddenly-rich novelist buys a big old house. As his wife has recently died in an horrific accident, spookiness is bound to come knocking on the big old door.
Neither the author or his young daughter can settle in this dream home. Memories of his dead wife haunt the narrator and the little girl makes up imaginary friends. As all old houses have creaks and groans, the writer has to decide whether the shadows and thumps are coming from his grief, imagination or something more supernatural.
There are two stories, one told in the present in the first person from the author's perspective. It is written in a casual style, which makes it very current and easy to read. The second is from the point of view of a teenage girl from 1900. Here the style is also first person in a diary format but also very modern. The attitudes are not as they would have been in 1900, especially concepts such as accountability and responsibility in relation to a married man showing an interest in a teenage girl. This did not come across as authentic.
The theme is one of coming to terms with grief, rather than a ghost story. An enjoyable if unoriginal story, not in the realms of Stephen King or The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, as claimed, with regards to atmosphere and suspense. Nightingale House is an engaging and familiar mystery with a bit of a disappointing ending.
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