The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish
We have to start this off with the definition of a close from our friends at Wikipedia: A Scots term for alleyway, although it may be individually named close, entry, court, orwynd. A close is private property, hence gated and closed to the public.
The Haunting of Henderson Close is the latest paranormal mystery/thriller from one of my favorite authors across the pond, Catherine Cavendish. From the very first book I read of hers, I was reminded of UK legends like Phil Rickman and James Herbert. There’s a certain kind of vibe that Cavendish, Rickman and Herbert tap into that hits my horror erogenous zone. So we can start this review knowing I’m a fan. Big fan. Cat and I have been a kind of tag team across three publishers now. The Haunting of Henderson Close is her debut with Flame Tree Press, and it’s a crackling way to kick things off.
I hate reviews that give a blow by blow of the story. It’s like watching a long coming attraction that ruins your desire to see the actual movie. I’ll keep it short. Hannah has a change of life, getting a job as a tour guide at the crumbling, historic, and very eerie Henderson close in lovely old Edinburgh. Dressed in period clothes, she takes punters (don’t call them punters!) through the winding close, a place of squalor and dirty deeds back in the 1800s. From the jump, Hannah sees strange apparitions, a young girl with no face and quite a few mega-spooky goings on. There are strange time slips, sulfuric smells, demonic threats and more. Together with her tour guide friends Mairead and George, they must unravel a 100 year old murder mystery and perhaps stop the Devil himself from escaping the close.
This is no ‘check off the boxes’ haunting story. It’s primarily a mystery, with horror and even some sci-fi elements rolled into one hell of a tour through the madness that is Henderson Close. As always, Cavendish’s writing is spot on, building wonderful characters and weaving a spell on us unsuspecting readers. There is so much going on, I read until my eyes crossed because I couldn’t wait to see how it all tied together.
It takes a lot for a book to keep me flipping the pages past bedtime (which gets earlier with each passing year). The Haunting of Henderson Close is the perfect night read, especially on a stormy night.
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.