Review: Delevan House by Ruthann Jagge and Natasha Sinclair

cover of Delevan HouseDelevan House by Ruthann Jagge and Natasha Sinclair
Independently Published (February 2023)
240 pages; $21.95 hardcover; $14.95 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Folk horror tends to be an intriguing subgenre. It runs deep in our veins and roots in our DNA, no matter what the setting. Collaborative novels are always a mixed bag as the stylistic mix between two minds walks the artistic tightrope.

Yet these two authors forge something special here, as Ruthann Jagge and Natasha Sinclair — the former a Texan/NY hybrid, and the latter hailing from Scotland — have produced a story that is both gorgeous and vicious. The mystery surrounding the story is intoxicating as the question is posed: what is Delevan House? The answer to that is labyrinthine in construction.

It begins with Lady Delevan in the titular structure, a living dwelling that harkens back to the mindset of Arthur Machen or Shirley Jackson. Her history weaves with those of the witches in the 1600s, yet is so much more. The house is built in the village of Babd, a Scottish creation that envelops its denizens and affects them in myriad manners.

Her daughter, Caoimhe, seeks to leave the house, something her mother hasn’t done in ages. The strange man outside in the yard captures her desires, but does he realize what he may become a part of?

Back in New York, Jenna craves escape from a sinister man and seeks rebirth in Scotland, wearing the strange necklace she stole from him.

What ensues is pure magic. The plot weaves and dances to an internal soundtrack as the reader is transported back and forth through the centuries. Caoimhe’s tale is doled out in exciting bits, with equal parts terror and ecstasy, blood lust and pure lust.

This is the first of a trilogy and if the second and third are anything like this, readers have a treat awaiting them.

Recommended for fans of folk horror and strong storytelling.

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