When Dreda Say Mitchell contacted me to ask if I’d like to read and review her latest novel, “Spare Room” I was intrigued. This was something a little different from the author known for her #GritLit work. So of course, how could I resist!
It’s publication day today for Spare Room so it is available to buy now!
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Home Is Where The Nightmare Is
Beautiful double room to let to single person
Lisa, a troubled young woman with a past, can’t believe her luck when she finds a beautiful room to rent in a large house. The live-in owners are a kind and welcoming couple. Everything is fine until she finds a suicide note hidden in her room. But when the couple insist this man didn’t exist and that Lisa is their first tenant, Lisa begins to doubt herself.
Compelled to uncover the secrets of the man who lived in the room before her, Lisa is alarmed when increasingly disturbing incidents start to happen. Someone doesn’t want Lisa to find out the truth.
As the four walls of this house and its secrets begin to close in on Lisa, she descends into a hellish hall of mirrors where she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not as she claws her way towards the truth…
This room has already claimed one victim?
Is it about to take another?
Well, that blurb certainly dragged me in kicking and screaming! And with a prologue that was both disturbing and intriguing, I knew that I was in for a very different read. I was not wrong!
Quirky and chilling were the first two words that sprung to mind when I started reading “Spare Room”. Almost immediately I was struck by the strength of this house as a character in its own right. There was something intense about the narrative that painted the house before my very eyes and took me on the guided tour with Lisa when she goes to view the room.
As the reader you are aware of what has happened in the room and you know that Lisa is not. You are hit with a sense of trepidation, you can almost hear the creepy movie music playing in the background. The characters and the house all work together to engulf you and you are drawn into the pages as though you had walked through the front door of the house yourself.
Martha and Jack the owners of the house instilled a sense of fear in me. Something about them caused fingers to creep up and down my spine. Lisa’s parents, Edward and Barbara were so stiff upper lipped British. Patsy the next door neighbour is a delightful character, the author uses her narrative to drip feed the reader information about the past. Lisa, herself, was a painful character to read. I felt myself step inside of her head. She had both vulnerability and an intensity about her that made her completely relatable. Through the novel, her past comes tumbling out revealing the reason behind her instability.
Honestly, the character portrayal in this novel was done to perfection- Dreda Say Mitchell didn’t just write those characters she painted them alive on the page. They jumped out of the pages and into my life. Would I say I liked all of the characters, definitely not, but even the ones that I did not like totally reached out and grabbed me.
Mental health, suicide, secrets and dysfunctional relationships are all explored in this novel. At times when I was reading, I wasn’t quite sure who to believe. At times I felt my own reality was being distorted and it was definitely an intense reading experience.
Quirky and chilling were my initial thoughts and those were the words that were going through my mind when I finished! I loved it!
Spare Room is available to purchase from: