TITLE: The General Theory of Haunting
AUTHOR: Richard Easter
PUBLICATION DATE: December 2017
NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.
"Every haunting has a design…
Winter, 1809. Lord Francis Marryman’s wife, Patience, is dying. In the madness of his grief, desperate to keep Patience’s memory alive, he’s compelled to build a memorial in the form of a remote country Hall. But as the plans move forward, Marryman Hall seems to become alive with more than just memories.
Francis, a brilliant mathematician and scholar, has built more into the walls than just bricks and mortar.
Autumn, 2018. Siblings Greg and Lucy Knights, owners of K&K Publishing Company, are seeking a venue to celebrate the 18th anniversary of their company’s inception. At such short notice, there is only one option that still has vacancies: Marryman Hall.
Winter arrives and as heavy snow falls, the guests drop out until a much depleted party of just 6 reach their destination and soon find themselves snowed in. As the guests’ private lives and demons are exposed in the increasingly awkward, claustrophobic atmosphere , the secrets of Marryman Hall and her history are also brought into shocking light from the darkness. In his grief, it’s possible that Lord Francis Marryman may have made a terrible mistake…
The General Theory of Haunting is the perfect ghost story to curl up with on the long winter nights - like Marryman Hall's guests, you won't know what's truly happening until it's way too late..."
The General Theory of Haunting is a nicely-written, paranormal mystery thriller that moves slowly at first, picks up pace, has great character development, several surprises, and an absolutely fascinating theory on... well, hauntings. Marryman Hall also manages to develope a personality of its own. This isn't a horror novel, despite the hauntings. But part of the novel make a beautiful love story. Watching the time-spanning mystery of Marryman Hall unfold was just as exciting as the more usual action packed murder solving mysteries. A lovely book. I'm looking forward to more work from this author.
I bought this on a whim, because it's just a gorgeous book, chock full of old book covers. I figured I'd be interested in the contents too, of course, but was prepared, based on the title, for a lot of hyperbole.
Not so much really. I'd say the editors did a fantastic job of choosing books that most people would agree significantly affected, if not changed, the course of society. I enjoyed the narratives written for each one too; I learned at least a little something about each book, in spite of at least 95 of them being familiar to me already.
I knocked the rating back a little because some of the choices would have had a more localised influence than others (A Book of Mediterranean Food and The Cat in the Hat come most quickly to mind), and because there was a slight but noticeable political bias to the choices. Whether that bias was the editors' or history's, I don't know, and I can't argue the impact most of these books had, so it's a pretty small quibble really.
A nice book for the bibliophile or the armchair historian who enjoys the trend of history through objects.
Based on Alex Johnson's blog about bookshelves (theblogonthebookshelf.blogspot.com), this is a collection of the myriad styles of bookshelves as traditional cases, single shelves, furniture, and everything in between. The hardcover edition is nicely bound and chock full of beautiful full-colour images of every piece, each with a website address for the particular designer. At the back of the book is a further reading section listing book titles, articles and website links to related reading.
As a design book, it's great. For a serious bibliophile constantly struggling for creative ways to defy the laws of physics, it's a fun book to flip through but rarely does it offer practical ideas (though there are a few gems) for anyone but those that have small collections or extraordinarily large houses.
I only meant to read chapter 4 yesterday, but didn't remember that until I was half-way through chapter 5. The two chapters really go hand-in-hand though so it made sense.
These chapters discuss the fact that cats are considered to be only semi-domesticated by people who consider these things (scientists, I presume) and what that means for the humans who share their lives and homes with them. This is where behavioural issues are discussed - not in depth, but still informatively. He spends some time in chapter 4 discussing - in a refreshingly frank and balanced way - two of the more 'famous' cat ... whisperers. (Ugh. That term.) Both seem just this side of snake oil salesman, but as McNamee points out, it's hard to argue with some of their results. By far, this was the most practically informative chapter in the book for me yet.
The good news is I have two beautifully adjusted cats and one semi-adjusted cat. The bad news is that the only tool offered to combat a yowling cat is shaking a can of loose coins, which is problematic on a number of levels for us, not the least of which is the effect rattling a jar of coins will have on all our sanity at 4am.
Chapter 5 discussed truly wild cats; the feral cat populations around the world. Can I just say, I love Italy. You can keep their pasta and pizza, I am in love with their cat laws. It's illegal to euthanise cats in Italy; the government pays not only for a spay/neuter program country-wide, but also has programs set up to feed and care for the feral populations. Now that is a country I'd willing pay taxes to. The other incredible thing is the number of volunteers that watch over these colonies and really care for them. The whole thing is amazing beyond belief.
Unfortunately, it's not the cure all we need for controlling the feral cat population, as McNamee is honest enough to point out. Italy's program will never be truly successful (though it sounds more successful than any other to date) without a complete re-education and cultural shift of the human population. If people don't take responsibility for the cats in their lives and neighbourhoods, there will always be a fresh infusion of feral cats. And if Italy, with it's already fabulous philosophy and dedication requires that much more work, you can imagine how impossibly steep the curve is for the USA, where compassion for others of any species is thin on the ground, and for Australia, where if your not a marsupial they don't want to know about you. I had to do a lot of skimming in this chapter because after Italy, the facts and stats are horrible.
This chapter also includes a brief discussion on the stupidity of breeding our house cats with wild cats (the possible exception being the Bengal, which was done for scientifically valid reasons; the cross breeding failed to meet the primary objective, but did result in a beautifully docile hybrid). This, with the exception just mentioned, never ends well and is hell on both the cats and the people. This stupidity is compounded by those that try to actually keep wild cats as pets. There's a special place in hell for people who do this, and I hope it involves a cage. This section was almost impossible for me to read.
There are three more chapters left, but there's not a chance in hell I can read chapter 7; flipping through and just catching a sentence choked me up, so I'll be pausing a bit until others in the group catch up.