I was attracted to this book because of the unusual cover and the premise sounded fascinating: an old house with the middle taken out because it's haunted!
Jay is an artist, specialising in ceramics, but has suffered a breakdown and feels a need for peace and quiet away from London. So she and her husband Simon buy a derelict house in the country - which is actually now two houses, as a previous owner took out the middle believing it to be haunted by the ghost of his wife. Despite the hostility of the villagers, Jay finds the idea of living in a haunted house both fascinating and inspiring, and is eager to investigate its history - but perhaps the past should be left alone?
I did enjoy The Two Houses but I downloaded it because I thought it was a ghost story and it wasn't really. Small items seem to disappear from one location only to turn up in another, but that is about it. There is an old mystery but the story is really about how the characters cope with living in such a bleak and hostile environment. Jay and Simon discover that living in the country isn't quite the idyll they were expecting. Tom, who runs the local pub, has never quite got over having to give up farming. The elderly Heather is old enough to remember the tragic events of the past and has no desire to see it all stirred up again. And then there is the newcomer Dev, who just wants to fit in.
Tom and Heather were my favourite characters but I didn't much like Jay, mainly because she seemed to be determined to solve the mystery of the Two Houses only to prove that she was right - and she didn't care who she hurt in the process. I did love the idea of a house so haunted it had to have a chunk taken out. The story is well-written and the setting is great, but bear in mind The Two Houses is more character study than gothic mystery or psychological thriller.
I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, which will be published in the UK on the 22nd March 2018.
Thank you to Fran Cooper, Hodder & Stoughton, and Netgalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review.