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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Not only is Reginald Hill's The Stranger House an impossible-to-categorize novel, being equal parts mystery, psychological thriller, supernatural horror, and historical fiction. This story, about two strangers looking for answers in a remote northern English village, is also impossible to put down.
Samantha "Sam" Flood is a young Australian seeking clues to her past. Her grandmother came from England under horrific conditions (an orphan, she became pregnant at 12 and died shortly after giving birth to Sam's father), but the circumstances of her journey have been lost in time. During her search, Sam meets Miguel Madero, a Spanish scholar doing research on English Catholics during the Reformation. Their investigations lead them to the Stranger House, an old hostelry located in the secluded village of Illthwaite ("an ill name for an ill place"), an area steeped in legends, superstitions, and deeply buried secrets. The two outsiders' inquiries lead them into dangerous territory as they begin to uncover a gruesome story of perversion, betrayal, and murder. "The door to the past opens north," one local cryptically warns. "The devil lives there."
Although a dramatic departure from Hill's award-winning Dalziel and Pascoe Yorkshire Police saga (Good Morning, Midnight; Death's Jest-Book; Dialogues of the Dead; et al.), The Stranger House is still very much a classic Reginald Hill work. Featuring intensely opinionated and brilliantly multi-layered characters, unfathomably deep plotlines, and Hill's biting wit, this dark exploration into the dust-covered skeletons of a village's shadowy past is utterly readable. Paul Goat Allen