The House of Footsteps: Mathew West *Review*

The House of Footsteps book by Mathew West is being held up in front of a full bookshelf.

Genres: Gothic, Thriller | Release Date: 2 February 2022 | Standalone | Pages: 304 | Publisher: Harper North | Review

“This place, it is shaped by cruelty and by blood. It is drenched in it.”

Mathew West

Overview:

I wasn’t going to read The House of Footsteps in one sitting. But Mathew West drew me in, and on such a twisting path that I couldn’t dream of escaping before the end of the tale. I’m just going to say straight away, that (for me), this was like reading a combination of Agatha Christie, M. M. Kaye and Henry James. Yes, those are big names. But I have a feeling, Mathew West is going to be one too. With such a gothic tale as this one as his debut, the sky is the limit.

So what’s The House of Footsteps actually about? Simon Christie is a young man who, in 1923, is sent to Thistlecrook House to catalogue the enormous (and infamous) art collection of Victor Moredrake. However, by the time he arrives at the old House, his concerns are already mounting. The people in the village have told Simon some macabre and devastating things about Thistlecrook and its owner. When the art collection only emphasises a feeling of violence and unsavoury occurrences, Simon is left to wonder if he made a mistake coming here.

The House of Footsteps by Mathew West is on a bookshelf,in front of books by Holly Black and Nattie Kate Mason. There is a vignette on the image, to help focus the attention on The House of Footsteps.
The House of Footsteps is one of the best gothic novels you will ever come across.

There are secrets within the walls. And the lake is a shimmering example of all the follies and horror that have been perpetuated on these grounds. Everything within The House of Footsteps is designed to place the reader in the mind of Simon, with rising tension, fears and superstitions marching to a pounding heartbeat.

Happiness Boost:

While some readers prefer not to have a first person POV, I found it only heightened my enjoyment of The House of Footsteps. Between this POV and the style of writing hearkening back to an older period, I was in my element. I don’t usually read horror, but gothic suspense like this? Yes! I’m here for it. In fact if Mathew West is going to be writing more books like this, just add everything to cart right now. Let me save the wait, I’ll have a standing order.

As a reader, you can never be sure if this kind of narrator is trustworthy. I had that hammered into me while studying English Literature, so just trust my word for it. And the beautifully twisted thing about Simon? Even *he* is unsure about his thoughts and actions. The deeper we go into The House of Footsteps, the more intense the turmoil.

I’ll be honest, when I come across something fascinating, I read it super fast. Later I’ll go back for a slower read, but the first time? I have to race ahead, because who can sleep when there’s a storyline this intriguing?! I just did not expect something this fascinating, macabre, and yes I’ll say it, brilliant.

Downside:

Some readers may feel like they want to skip ahead in parts, like when Simon is describing a walk, or even the minutiae of the gruesome art he is cataloguing. I promise you, reading all of it makes the chilling suspense even more palpable. And the intensity keeps creeping up until we find ourselves on top of a cliff, seeing how steep it is if we were to fall into the sea of the author’s making.

Final Thoughts:

My dear glitterbugs, if you have ever wanted to give a gothic novel a go? Get this one. It has all of the essential elements, and just a touch of something more, something extra special about it. The House of Footsteps is a phenomenally good debut, and I take my hat off to Mathew for it. Some stories stay with you for a good while; even if names of characters were to escape you, you’d remember the *feeling* that that story evoked. The House of Footsteps is going to be one of those for me. I was twisted and turned this way and that, and surprises and thrills only ceased when I had read the last line of the book.

You can order via my Amazon link : The House of Footsteps

8 Responses

    1. Oh my goodness that’s wonderful to hear, thank you!
      I am so, so glad you’re going to read it, I promise it’s utterly captivating and brilliant! ♥

  1. I’m in. *clicks the link to buy*
    It sounds fabulous. I love first-person POV because I feel like I’m a part of the book. Such fun! I can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. I’ve just started reading this and now I’m hooked. It’s just the sort of book I like to read, one you can get lost in. And much more readable than, say, Henry James. I don’t know this author, it looks like his first novel. Hope to see more from him.

    1. This has made me so happy, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! It is Mathew West’s debut novel; I think it’s safe to say we’re in for a treat with whatever he publishes next!

  3. Agreed on all your points! I loved this debut novel and read it in two days. The book follows no predictable course, there are many surprising twists and turns, the burn is slow, and there is really no denouement, just an incredibly imaginative and chilling mise en scene . I also like the way he writes, and although at times quite detailed, his prose is sufficiently good to hold my interest. What a great new talent.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! I think we’re in for a treat with his writing, and look forward to diving into The Water Child when I get a chance to read it!

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