Publisher: Unbound Books
Publication date: 12th January 2017
Gibbous House is an architectural curiosity. It’s an imposing feature on the landscape and is home to guests that require urgent psychological assistance. From the moment you step inside a world of decaying morals, Gothic ambience and the author’s quick wit, you will find fate dealing a shocking hand to those blissfully unaware of the game they are playing.
Ah, that brings me to Mr Alastair Moffat. He’s oddly charming for a murderous scoundrel and has a flippant sense of humour, even under most testing circumstances. He is motivated by the prospect of gaining something at no cost to himself, so you can probably guess he was over the moon to receive news of a potential windfall via his late wife. An inheritance destined for Arabella Coble suggests great fortune awaits him at Gibbous House. Eager to discover more Moffat signs papers in the presence of the estate’s lawyer, without the burdensome task of reading them, and thereby claims ownership of the property and all the quirky responsibilities that go with it.
The domain of the deceased, Septimus Coble, should provide anonymity from Moffat’s parasitic past while providing him with a very lucrative future. Yet the most important item listed among his new assets is something referred to only as ‘The Collection’. The cadaverous-looking staff offer a unique welcome to the new arrival and although their roles are unclear at first it’s entertaining to watch the penny drop as the nature of his inheritance becomes clear.
It’s was an amusing prospect to learn that the activities at Gibbous House are potentially worse than Moffat’s – I mean, could anyone have less scruples?! Dining is a theatrical spectacle, only to be further enhanced by Mrs Gonderthwaite’s miraculous culinary fayre which is served by her feral children of unclassified parentage. There’s his new ward too and it’s uncertain whether Miss Pardoner has developed a facial twitch or is winking at him. Other fixtures include a dwarf professor who needs to be constantly reminded who the new master of the house is, and poor Maccabi, a reluctant stooge at Moffat’s command. SUCH a fabulous cast!
This lair of sinister indulgence encourages you to consider the welfare of a man who hasn’t a shred of conscience. But far from Moffat presenting himself as a victim, his attitude could come in handy when he interrupts the cloistered ethics of Gibbous House.
The plot is an absolute stunner but, and this is a very, very minor thing, the closure wasn’t as striking as I’d have hoped for. After almost 450 pages of a cracking build up it didn’t have quite the impact I was expecting, given the rest of the tale I’d just savoured that is. What you can be sure of are continuous japes from a treasure trove of oddballs who appear right on cue.
Yep, I quite enjoyed this one!
Source: My own purchased copy, as a result of pledging my support for its publication via Unbound Books.
(Courtesy of Unbound Books Website)
What if Oliver Twist had uncontrollable, murderous urges? What if Pip’s great expectations were suddenly overturned by a mad scientist’s plot for world domination?
You wouldn’t be reading Dickens – but you might be reading Gibbous House.
Moffat is a character in the full Dickensian mode – a carefully drawn and verbose criminal thriving in the underbelly of 19th century London. When he unexpectedly inherits Gibbous House, an estate in Northumbria, he heads north on a journey that raises questions about his own identity and quickly leads to issues of morality, addiction and murder.
Gibbous House, Moffat discovers, already plays home to a motley cast of characters: the beautiful and seductive Ellen Pardoner, the conniving attaché Maccabi and the arrogant scientist Enoch – manager of the mansion’s esoteric ‘collection’. Moffat’s greed-fuelled pursuit of his inheritance takes him deep into a crazed, conspiratorial plot and a series of tense, psychological showdowns.
Gibbous House is intelligent, cryptic and brimming with historical detail. The book combines suspense and mystery with comic asides to Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens – adding an engaging modern irony to the rich texture of the classic Gothic novel.
Why settle for Nicholas Nickleby when you can have a Victorian Psycho?
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Ewan Lawrie spent 23 years in the Royal Air Force. He began writing during long boring flights over desert countries. His stories and poetry have been published in several anthologies. Gibbous House is his first novel.