Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again… and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key. Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate – and Annabel – have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?
First of all, thanks so much Anne Cater for inviting me on this Random Things Tour and Flame Tree Press for sending me a beautiful review copy!
I’m well aware that the whole point of this tour is for me to convince you that House of Skin is total amazeballs and you all have to read it. I don’t know if I can do that, but I do know that reading House of Skin led me to buy two other Jonathan Janz books. Because. It. Was. That. Good. Granted, they were on my wishlist before, but reading House of Skin was the final straw, with the risk of sounding like a total fangirl, I had to have more Janz!
Allow me to digress for a(nother) minute here: I used to be a horror fanatic. In my teens I read books by authors like Stephen King back-to-back, I watched every horror movie the local video shop had in stock (yes I am that old), I just couldn’t get enough. And then my love for horror just, I don’t know, simmered down, I guess? I felt jaded, explored other genres, fell in and out and back in love with thrillers and although I’ve always kept up with Stephen King, I didn’t really explore the horror genre anymore, it remained forgotten in a dusty cobwebbed corner of my mind.
And then came Jonathan Janz and Flame Tree Press. Well, both have been around for longer than that, obviously, but I stumbled over The Siren and the Spectre on Audible, listened to it, loved it and felt my love for horror rekindling. Now, having read House of Skin, I really feel like this is the new age of horror and by Janz, I am ready for it!
But you didn’t come here to hear me waffling on about horror or even about Jonathan Janz, you came to find out more about House of Skin! Well, what can I say? I loved it!
First of all, there’s a gothic mansion at the heart of a story, that’s always a great place to start. Our main character Paul inherits said mansion and surrounding grounds, Watermere, from an uncle he’s never even met. Tired of his life and his girlfriend, he decides to pack up, leave his old life behind and move into the house he has inherited and start a new life, become a writer. Little does Paul know that he won’t be alone in his new home, that there’s more to and in Watermere than he bargained for. There is something there. The spirit of his uncle’s wife, an essence of pure evil, Annabelle. Well I guess that wasn’t mentioned in uncle Myles’s final testament, was it! It doesn’t take long for Paul to realise that there are strange forces at work in Watermere. Falling in a drunken stupor and writing an entire horror novel while you are out of it, is not normal! Especially not when it seems you’ve written about events that actually happened. But it is handy! And so Paul ignores this niggling little sense of dread he has and focusses on his new girlfriend Julia. A real sweetheart! Or is she? She’s been behaving quite odd, hasn’t she? A bit out of character perhaps? A bit… bloodthirsty, shall we say? Oh I just love it when sweet innocent characters are led down a dark path, I can’t help myself, I love seeing them led astray, descend into darkness. (I think my soul’s just turned a little bit blacker) Before long there’s murder and mayhem, and the more blood is shed, the stronger Annabelle gets. So yeah, some gruesome scenes here, and some sexually fuelled obscenities, but House of Skin is also rife with a more subtle kind of horror, a sense of dread lacing the story from the very first page, making your hair stand on end practically the entire time. There is mystery as well: how are all the characters connected, what ties Julia to Watermere, what will the flashbacks to Myles and Annabelle show us? All of this leads to an explosive finale and a highly satisfying conclusion.
Highly recommended to any and all horror fans!
Check out the other stops on the tour: