Trick or treat? The new caretaker of this spooky Southern Gothic mansion may just have to find out the hard way...
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I dream sometimes about a house I’ve never seen . . .
Opal is a lot of things—orphan, high school dropout, full-time cynic and part-time cashier—but above all, she’s determined to find a better life for her younger brother Jasper. One that gets them out of Eden, Kentucky, a town remarkable for only two things: bad luck and E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth century author of The Underland, who disappeared over a hundred years ago.
All she left behind were dark rumors—and her home. Everyone agrees that it’s best to ignore the uncanny mansion and its misanthropic heir, Arthur. Almost everyone, anyway.
I should be scared, but in the dream I don’t hesitate.
Opal has been obsessed with The Underland since she was a child. When she gets the chance to step inside Starling House—and make some extra cash for her brother’s escape fund—she can’t resist.
But sinister forces are digging deeper into the buried secrets of Starling House, and Arthur’s own nightmares have become far too real. As Eden itself seems to be drowning in its own ghosts, Opal realizes that she might finally have found a reason to stick around.
In my dream, I’m home.
And now she’ll have to fight.
Welcome to Starling House: enter, if you dare.
I dream sometimes about a house I’ve never seen.
I mean, pretty much nobody has. Logan Caldwell claims he ding-dong-ditched the place last summer break, but he’s an even bigger liar than me. The truth is you can’t really see the house from the road. Just the iron teeth of the front gate and the long red lick of the drive, maybe a glimpse of limestone walls crosshatched by honeysuckle and greenbriers. Even the historical plaque out front is half-swallowed by ivy, the letters so slurred with moss and neglect that only the title is still legible:
But sometimes in the early dark of winter you can see a single lit window shining through the sycamores.
It’s a funny kind of light: a rich amber that shudders with the wind, nothing like the drone of a streetlight or the sickly blue of a fluorescent. I figure that window is the only light I’ve ever seen that doesn’t come from the coal plant on the riverbank.
In my dream, the light is for me.
I follow it through the gates, up the drive, across the threshold. I should be scared—there are stories about Starling House, the kind people only tell at night, half-whispered under the hum of the porch light—but in the dream I don’t hesitate.
In the dream, I’m home.
Apparently that’s too far-fetched even for my subconscious, because that’s usually when I wake up. I surface in the half-dark of the motel room with a hungry, empty ache in my chest that I think must be homesickness, although I guess I wouldn’t know.
I stare at the ceiling until the parking lot lights flick off at dawn.
Why I love it
Author, Divine Rivals
Old houses have a charm that never fails to draw me in. Who once dwelled within these walls? How many seasons of life and death, love and pain have bloomed and wilted beneath this roof? If such timber and glass and brick could talk, what words would they utter? So if you give me a story about a sentient old house, I will drop everything to get lost within those pages.
Enter Alix E. Harrow’s mesmerizing novel, Starling House. We are first introduced to a clever and tough-as-nails heroine named Opal and then the haunted house she’s been dreaming of since she was a girl. That house, which sits behind intricate iron gates, belongs to the enigmatic—and supposedly cursed—Starling family. But all the small-town gossip doesn’t stop Opal from taking a housekeeping job when she crosses paths with Starling heir Arthur.
Opal needs the money to send her younger brother to a prestigious school and out of Eden, Kentucky. A place where mist rises from the river at unexpected moments, the water tastes like rust, and accidents seem to happen frequently. But as Opal spends more time with Arthur in Starling House, the more secrets about the house and the tangled history of Eden begin to come to light. And with that truth comes a reckoning about home, love, and the people and stories that mold and make us.
Written in Alix’s trademark lyrical voice, this is a spellbinding book to savor and devour all at once.
Member ratings (13,403)
This is definitely a palate cleanser for Spooky Season. It was an easy read with all the twists and I didn’t get lost. Some times when the authors jump around it tends to happen. Not with this one. 🖤
St Louis Park, MN
Captivating. The characters are rich and vibrant, the backstory is well flushed out. The ending- sweet and well-deserved. I didn’t know what to expect but I was drawn into the story of Opal and Arthur
New York, NY
Stunning tale of the family we choose and the ways trauma can haunt or consume us if we let it become our only demon. A ghost story that sees the true horror isn’t the ghost at all and gives her peace
I absolutely loved this book! It’s everything you want a book about a mysterious goth house to be. Page turner from beginning to end with a sweet romance that is well-woven into the storyline. ❤️
I loved the personality of the house and all the lore that was created for the choosing of Wardens. While Opal is a somewhat unlikable character, I found myself rooting for her. Multi-layered treasure