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Starling House by Alix E. Harrow
Gothic fiction

Starling House

by Alix E. Harrow

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Quick take

Trick or treat? The new caretaker of this spooky Southern Gothic mansion may just have to find out the hard way...

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy

    Creepy

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Rural_update

    Rural

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_HauntedHouse

    Haunted House

Synopsis

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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Starling House.
Starling House

ONE

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:

STARLING HOUSE

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.

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (21,286)

  • Cora M.

    Rockwall, TX

    I’m only sad that it’s over ❤️ some children love a scary night time story. Who welcomed the dark & unknown. Who befriended the creatures of the night and “mist.”… I was always one of those children

  • Shelby M.

    Bella Vista, AR

    This isn’t your typical haunted house story. It’s way better. A haunted house that’s actually charming? An unlikely love story and an eerie cursed town. Perfect ending too, although I’m sad it’s over!

  • Kim W.

    Statesville, NC

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Gothic Fiction I was so surprised how much I absolutely loved this book!!! The characters especially the house were superbly described and developed throughout the whole story!!

  • Paige S.

    Otsego, MN

    I was getting major “Wednesday” vibes (the Netflix show about Wednesday Adams), in the level of “spookiness” but overall wholesomeness. There were also cute touches like occasional illustrations, and

  • Chyrl N.

    Warren, OH

    I should be waiting until I actually finish the book, but I can’t because that’s how good this book is!! I’m hooked! I hate when I have to put it down to go to work! It’s full of mystery and awesome!

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