The best novels about mysterious old houses with a haunting presence

Who am I?

I am an author of mysteries with three published books in the genre to date. Novels involving a mysterious house will immediately grab my attention. Throw in an otherworldly presence and I’m hooked. So it was no surprise when my muse guided me to create a mystery series that centers around a Victorian home haunted by the spirits of its original inhabitants. Inspiration came from personal experience—a real-life ghostly encounter in my New England country home which bordered an ancient cemetery—and influence from classic tales that delve into the paranormal and the psychological. This is the type of book I will always rush to read (and write).

I wrote...

House of Ashes

By Loretta Marion,

Book cover of House of Ashes

What is my book about?

A century-old curse, a dying proclamation, and a mystifying disappearance converge in the shadows of a brooding Victorian, standing triumphant despite tragedies that have swept the generations. In the first Haunted Bluffs Mystery, Cassandra Mitchell is in a desperate race to save her family home and legacy when two friends vanish without a trace. Despite warnings from police and the FBI, Cassandra follows the trail of clues—and eerie signals from the ghostly presence of the old Victorian. Dark family secrets are exposed as she seeks to solve the mysterious disappearance. But will she succeed before a perilous curse threatens to destroy everything?

A raging storm, missing child, and suspicious deaths set the stage for Storm of Secrets, the second ghostly mystery in the series.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Rebecca

Loretta Marion Why did I love this book?

A masterpiece of gothic literature, Rebecca was the first book to draw me to the genre. Hooked by the first line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”…I remained spellbound by every atmospheric scene and suspenseful twist until reaching the last haunting words, “And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea." Only after finishing did I realize that the book’s narrator, the young second wife of enigmatic Maxim de Winter, is never introduced by name. Though dead, it is the title character and first Mrs. de Winter—Rebecca—who continues to torment the newly married couple.

The home itself, which du Maurier brings to life with such a beautiful description, becomes a vital character in the story. Without Manderley, there would be no Rebecca.

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

37 authors picked Rebecca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory…

Book cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Loretta Marion Why did I love this book?

From an expert horror storyteller, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is my favorite Shirley Jackson novel. Unlike the more famous The Haunting of Hill House, Castle is not about a haunted house. But there is something strange and mysterious happening within the walls of Blackwood House. Instead of ghostly spirits, the mansion on the outskirts of town is possessed by secrets. Secrets that have ostracized two sisters and their crippled uncle following the suspicious arsenic poisoning deaths of half the Blackwood family. Reclusive older sister Constance is widely suspected of the crime, while young Merricat is subject to persecution when venturing into town for provisions. With a quirky belief in omens and magic, Merricat weaves a questionable narrative and twisted perspective through the telling of a dark tale. 

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked We Have Always Lived in the Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Living in the Blackwood family home with only her sister, Constance, and her Uncle Julian for company, Merricat just wants to preserve their delicate way of life. But ever since Constance was acquitted of murdering the rest of the family, the world isn't leaving the Blackwoods alone. And when Cousin Charles arrives, armed with overtures of friendship and a desperate need to get into the safe, Merricat must do everything in her power to protect the remaining family.

Book cover of The Lake House

Loretta Marion Why did I love this book?

The Lake House was recommended to me because the style of writing and the themes of the story have been compared to my own books. I especially enjoy the techniques of interweaving present-day stories with tales from the past and employing multiple perspectives. Kate Morton’s characters are always well-developed, and her descriptions provide atmospheric depth. The country lake home, Loeanneth—beautifully described in its prime—is an abandoned, crumbling estate decades later. Family secrets abound and having two unrelated mysteries at work brings texture to the story. As a writer, I do appreciate when one of the main characters is an author, and I enjoyed observing Alice Edevane's approach to her writing life. Be patient as the mystery twists and builds. You won’t be disappointed!

By Kate Morton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lake House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. But by the time midnight strikes and the fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever. Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Detective Sadie Sparrow retreats on an enforced holiday to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall. Venturing further into the countryside on her daily runs, she stumbles upon a long-abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the terrible story of…

Book cover of Jane Eyre

Loretta Marion Why did I love this book?

Jane Eyre is an eerily evocative novel in which two Victorian mansions present with sinister apparitions. Jane’s first terrifying ghostly encounter occurs in Gatesfield Hall when a wicked aunt locks her in the red room, haunted by her deceased uncle. After years in the harsh world of Lowood Institute for orphaned girls, she becomes the governess at Thornfield Hall. Jane falls in love with the dashing but brooding Edward Rochester, though also senses a mysterious, foreboding presence within the walls of his Thornfield home. On their wedding day, after discovering Rochester is still married to a madwoman he keeps locked in the attic, Jane flees Thornfield to an uncertain future.

I love that Bronte created a strong, independent female character, rare in Victorian times, and still delivered a satisfying ending.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…

Book cover of The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Loretta Marion Why did I love this book?

The Haunting of Maddy Clare is a historic tale of ghost hunters who find exactly what they are seeking in Maddy Clare—a powerful and angry specter that haunts the barn where she ended her life. The characters are well drawn in a story that offers just the right balance of fright and romantic tension. The atmosphere is as dark and unsettling as one would hope to discover in a story about a haunting spirit, with enough mystery and suspense to keep the reader wondering about the ending for each of the characters—including Maddy Clare herself.

For readers who enjoy mysteries, ghost stories, and romantic suspense…The Haunting of Maddy Clare offers all of that and more.

By Simone St. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Haunting of Maddy Clare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A woman of limited means and even less experience must confront a vengeful spirit in this haunting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Broken Girls and The Sun Down Motel.

1920s England. Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist an obsessed ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis—rich, handsome, and scarred by World War I—has been summoned to investigate the spirit of the nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is said to haunt the barn where she committed suicide.

Maddy hated men in life, and she will not speak to them in death.…

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Quoz: A Financial Thriller

By Mel Mattison,

Book cover of Quoz: A Financial Thriller

Mel Mattison Author Of Quoz: A Financial Thriller

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’m a huge thriller fan, and I love finance. In fact, I worked in the industry for over twenty years. I have an MBA from Duke and have been the CEO of three different SEC/FINRA-registered broker-dealers. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself deep into a thriller with a financial component that turns out to be implausible, overly simplistic, or both. It breaks the narrative for me. With these books, that’s not a concern. Financial thriller aficionados unite!

Mel's book list on exploring the dark side of finance

What is my book about?

It’s 2027. Rory O’Connor is the financial genius who helped create ICARUS, a quantum computer that controls the world’s stock markets with AI and algorithms. But Rory has recently suffered some tough breaks. He’s checked out of high finance and into a luxury Caribbean condo. After a former colleague finds anomalies with ICARUS, Rory quickly finds himself at the nexus of a high-stakes international conspiracy.

In the process, he discovers a hidden thumb drive that contains the mysterious and encrypted Vega files. Now, Rory must travel to Switzerland, access the ICARUS mainframe, decrypt the drive, overcome his demons, and save the world from financial chaos. If he fails, the globe descends into an economic Armageddon controlled by madmen and psychopathic bankers.

Quoz: A Financial Thriller

By Mel Mattison,

What is this book about?

Quantum AI, corrupt central bankers, and the blockchain collide in a stock market supernova. The annihilation of the global economic order is just the beginning.

"As governments around the world seek to exert tyrannical control over currency, Quoz serves as a cautionary tale for what lies ahead. You've been warned." -Trey Radel, Former Member of United States Congress

It's 2027. The AI revolution has merged with quantum computing to take control of global financial markets. Operated by the mysterious Bank for International Settlements based in Basel, Switzerland, the quantum supercomputer known as ICARUS has promised the world a more stable…

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