A rousing gothic tale of past and present in a Galloway beach house.
With the help of a timely inheritance, Donna Weaver and her mother have just purchased and renovated a posh guesthouse they’ve christened The Breakers, and now, with her mother exhibiting at a wedding fair in Glasgow, Donna is left to handle their first guests all by herself—a group of eight cousins celebrating the 10th anniversary of Sasha Mowbray and his wife, Kim. The first to arrive are siblings Peach and Buck Plummer, who immediately recognize the place as Knockbreak House, the scene of Sasha’s appalling 16th birthday party. The other cousins are Rosalie, brothers Paul and Ramsay, and Jennifer, who turns pale when she realizes where she is. Alternating chapters take place in 1991, when narrator Carmen, a local girl, describes going to Sasha’s party with her younger sister, Lynsey. Plied with drink and disgusted by the strange food and filthy state of the house, the two girls are mocked by the sophisticated town dwellers but do their best to fit in. Back in the present, Donna is desperate to give her guests a great experience, but it’s soon obvious that Sasha’s marriage is on the rocks, and the quibbling cousins are hiding secrets while blaming each other for strange occurrences that include the discovery of a locked box stuck in the chimney and the mysterious appearance of a picture taken at Sasha’s 16th birthday party—all of which Sasha blames on Kim, since she made the arrangements. Practical jokes referencing the past become ever more loathsome until the disappearances of Sasha and Jennifer force Donna to call in the police, who come up with an unusual solution.
McPherson (House. Tree. Person., 2017, etc.) provides a virtuoso exploration of guilt, remorse, and revenge in a haunting psychological thriller. The ending will leave you astounded.