When I started The Haunting of Henderson Close, a gothic story of a middle-aged woman trying to restart her life in Edinburgh with a new job as a historic tour guide, I was immediately drawn in. The atmosphere was incredible, the characters likeable, and the setting extremely unique.
Cavendish is very skilled at crafting a scene, from the creepy modern day Close, now an underground tourist attraction run by a cast of costumed characters, to the bleak and miserable past, when it was inhabited by the unfortunate and forgotten. I enjoyed the time hopping element that took us between the late 19th century, where philanthropist Miss Carmichael strives to help those who need it most, and the present, where Hannah and her coworkers race against a dark presence to unravel the mysteries left behind by that same Miss Carmichael’s murder.
The first half of the book kept me hooked, even if I found the dialogue stilted and over explain-y, a trait that continued throughout. The second half, however, lost me. It seemed there had been a lot of ideas going into the book that didn’t really get fleshed out well enough to provide a satisfying end. The connection the three main characters shared with the close, the reveal of who the killer truly was, the little girl with no face, who seemed like she was going to play a big part, but was left mostly unexplained. The finer details that the story seemed to be working toward got lost and jumbled, leaving me confused about what exactly had happened and how.
Even with its disappointing end, the slow burning creepiness kept me turning the page and I feel like most fans of gothic horror will enjoy Cavendish’s brand of spooky storytelling.