“The Blackhouse” by Carole Johnstone – Book Review

“A remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.”“The sheep will spend its life in fear of the wolf, and then be eaten by the shepherd.”Told in two voices – with a dual timeline, this novel captured me and transported me to the Outer Hebrides. The mournful tolling of the tide bell, the scent of the salt water, the sound of the crashing waves, the feel of the constant winds, all were made visceral to the reader. The sense of place was all pervasive lending the narrative a somber feel. The community was isolated and insular and they banded together despite their divergent personalities.

Maggie McKay’s story was my favourite of the two. I empathized with her solitary life, her mother’s recent death, and her longing to ‘belong‘ somewhere… her fear.  Robert Reid’s story, set 25 years earlier, was darker, more complex, and I found it verged on the melancholy.

The plot was original and beautifully written. It contained several plot twists which added interest and food for thought to the story. I did find the pacing ponderously slow at times.

This literary thriller covered some weighty topics such as mental illness as the result of childhood trauma, what it feels like to be an ‘outsider’, the fragility of happiness, guilt, secrecy, deception, self-loathing, reincarnation, and atonement.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Carole Johnstone and would not hesitate to read more of her work.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Scribner Books via Edelweiss.      

ISBN: 9781982199678 – ASIN: ‎ B0B3Y8HT1J –  336 pages

Carole Johnstone is an award-winning writer from Scotland, whose short stories have been published all over the world. Her debut novel, Mirrorland, is a psychological suspense with a gothic twist, set in Edinburgh. Her second novel, The Blackhouse, is a very unusual murder-mystery set on a fictional island off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis.

Having grown up in Lanarkshire, she now lives in Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland, although her heart belongs to the wild islands of the Outer Hebrides.

Connect with Carole Johnstone via her Website, Twitter and/or Instagram.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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6 Responses to “The Blackhouse” by Carole Johnstone – Book Review

  1. Pingback: Fictionophile’s JANUARY 2023 Reading Wrap-Up #bookblogger #MonthlyWrapUp | Fictionophile

  2. Carla says:

    Wonderful review, Lynne. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy.


  3. Christie says:

    Mirrorland is excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much! What a wonderful and interesting review. I’m very grateful to you for reading and reviewing The Blackhouse, and I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Thank you.
    All best wishes,
    Carole x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent review, Lynne💜 I’m debating whether to get this for audio review or wait. You make a good case for now.

    Liked by 1 person

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