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The Dead House by Billy O'Callaghan

The Dead House

Literary Fiction   Thriller / Suspense   Debuts of the Month   Relationship Stories   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   
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May 2017 Debut of the Month.

A beautifully eerie tale, a feast for your eyes, a torment for your mind. The exquisite cover immediately called to me, I found myself bewitched and reaching out to touch it. A house sits at the centre of this tale, a house bought as a means to escape, to reconnect, to exist at one with the surroundings. Michael invites us to listen to a story, and he paints a picture for you to taste, to feel. The descriptions are striking, particularly of the people, filling my eye and mind with their essence. Yet a trickle of unease hovers over the pages, encouraging thoughts to flicker, leaving you teetering on the edge of fear. Billy O’Callaghan writes with a skilfully light touch, this isn’t a terrifying, afraid to sit in the dark tale, it’s more subtle than that, instead it will creep inside minds, slice a little space for itself, and take up residence.‘The Dead House’, with a shiver-inducing final few pages, is a wonderfully mesmerising read, and I loved it. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Edel Waugh - 'This is probably one of the best ghost stories that I have read in years...I had goosebumps reading this, the bleak setting, this mentally wounded woman, and a deeply unsettling house.'
  • Sarah Musk - 'If you like to be scared, this book will scare you to death! This one of the creepiest books I have ever read.  The whole story reeks of menace and evil.'
  • Nicola Lowes - 'I really enjoyed this book. The tension is kept as an undercurrent which makes it all the more creepy...I would like to read more by this author.'
  • Sheila Dale - 'This is a very good book, exceedingly readable, I couldn't put it down and read it in 2 sittings. It's very well structured with long chapters which really throw you into the story.'
  • Cathy Petersen - 'Genuinely creepy in places this was a really good debut ghost story, well worth a read... An author to watch I think.'
  • Carrie Jones - 'Everything a ghost story should be; ominous, dark and truly scary. Read it with the lights on…'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'It’s haunting drama is unveiled by some of the most poignantly descriptive writing I have read for an age.  O’Callaghan paints in words...'
  • Lorraine Blencoe - 'Beautifully written ghostly goings-on... But the quality of the description is also its downfall because there’s just too much of it.'
  • Jayne Burton - 'Wow - what a great read. Spine chillingly good.'
  • Gerri Tennant - 'Wonderfully crafted, it drew me in right from the start.'
  • Sabine Little - 'Beautifully written, and eerie in an understated way that keeps you reading all the way though. This is a beautifully written book, the prose is haunting'
  • Emma Barton - 'This is an atmospheric ghost story...and the author certainly expresses a keen sense of evil within the storytelling.'
  • Sally Doel - 'I quickly got into this book and thought it was well-written and had great characters.'
  • Fiona Rothery - 'one of the best new novels I have read in a long time.  It is mysterious, compelling and full of beautiful and vivid description.'
  • Angela Rhodes - 'A beautiful, story, that climbs slowly, enticing the reader...haunting and beautifully written.'
  • Sue Packer - 'a frightening but enjoyable read, and even better, an ending that chills the soul.'
  • Ann Quintilla - 'This is one of the most beautifully written stories I have read for a long time. Billy O’Callaghan’s prose paints incredible pictures, not only of the landscape of Ireland but also of emotions.'
  • Lynne Morgan - 'This book hooked me right from the start.'


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The Dead House by Billy O'Callaghan

Attempting to rebuild her life after a violent relationship, Maggie Turner, a successful young artist, moves from London to Allihies and buys an ancient abandoned cottage. Keen to concentrate on her art, she is captivated by the wild beauty of her surroundings. After renovations, she hosts a house-warming weekend for friends. A drunken game with a Ouija board briefly descends into something more sinister, as Maggie apparently channels a spirit who refers to himself simply as 'The Master'. The others are visibly shaken, but the day after the whole thing is easily dismissed as the combination of suggestion and alcohol. Maggie immerses herself in her painting, but the work devolves, day by day, until her style is no longer recognisable. She glimpses things, hears voices, finds herself drawn to certain areas: a stone circle in the nearby hills, the reefs at the west end of the beach behind her home ...A compelling modern ghost story from a supremely talented writer. From the Costa Short Story Award Finalist, Billy O'Callaghan. 'a welcome voice to the pantheon of new Irish writing' - Edna O'Brien


'A moving work that builds to an elegiac climax and is a welcome voice to the pantheon of new Irish writing.' -- Edna O'Brien

'I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault ... O'Callaghan is a treasure of the English language.' Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind

'[is a] masterclass in understatement' Dermot Bolger, Irish Independent

'moments of insight and profundity which could only come from the mind of one who has known intimately the heartache and loss experienced by the characters he writes about ... superlative writing' Writerful Books, Australia

About the Author

Billy O'Callaghan

Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of three previous short story collections: In Exile (2008) and In Too Deep (2009), both published by the Mercier Press, and The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind (2013) published by New Island Books, the title story of which earned him the 2013 Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year. The recipient of literature bursaries from the Arts Council in 2010 and the Cork County Council in 2015 among several other honours, including the Molly Keane Award and the George A. Birmingham Award, his work has been broadcast on RTE Radio One's Book On One, Sunday Miscellany and the Francis MacManus Awards series. He has also been short-listed on four occasions for the RTE/P.J. O'Connor Award for Radio Drama. Over the past fifteen years, his short stories have appeared in some ninety literary magazines and journals around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, Bliza, Confrontation, the Fiddlehead, the Forge Magazine, Hayden's Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal, London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative Magazine, the Southeast Review, Southword, Versal, and Yuan Yang: a Journal of Hong Kong and International Writing. New work is forthcoming in Salamander, the Emerson Review and Valparaiso Fiction Review. He also contributes regular book reviews to the Irish Examiner. Billy won second place in the 2017 Costa Short Story Awards for his story The Boatman.

author photo © Claire O'Rorke

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Book Info

Publication date

1st May 2017


Billy O'Callaghan

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Brandon an imprint of O'Brien Press Ltd


224 pages


Literary Fiction
Thriller / Suspense
Debuts of the Month
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites
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Horror & ghost stories



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