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.