The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child’s drawing of a family just like hers.
Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child’s drawing with a dark black X. It’s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim.
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About the Author
A fan of all things dark and horrific,D.W. Gillespiehas been writing horror, sci-fi, and fantasy for longer than he would like to admit. After years of daydreaming, he started taking it seriously in college after a creative writing class helped spark his motivation. After winning a local writing award, he realized that his path forward was clear.
In the years since, he’s been featured in many publications, both online and in print. He’s the author of more than a dozen novels, includingThe Toy Thief,Still Dark, andHandmade Monsters.
A lifelong native of Middle Tennessee, he still lives there today with his wife and two children.
For One by One, Gillespie was influenced by his experience of moving houses often when growing up. One particular house was supposedly haunted (according to previous tenants) and became specially inspirational, and he knew he wanted it to feature in one of his books as a character in the story.
What is the book about?
One By One is about a family moving into a big, weird fixer-upper. They expect it to be a bit of an adventure, but things come off the rails pretty quick after they find a drawing that looks exactly like their family hidden underneath some old wallpaper. Pretty soon, people start disappearing, and each time they do, a black X appears on the drawing. It’s up to the youngest child, a girl named Alice, to figure out what’s going on.
What are the underlying themes?
It’s all about how we deal with the past, specifically, how some people just can’t deal with it. The main character, Alice, finds a diary of the girl who lived there before her, a slightly older teen named Mary. Through her words, Alice sees a much darker world than she’s used to, and all that manifests itself in the house. Alice hasn’t dealt with that kind of grief in her own life, but she gets to see, first hand, how other people do.
Who influenced you most in the writing of the book?
I lived in a lot of different houses growing up. I hated it at the time, but it’s great for giving me creepy places to write about.
The house in the book is almost identical to a house I lived in when I was a teenager. It was (according to the previous tenants) haunted, even though I never noticed too much as far as ghosts go. What I did notice was how damn eerie the place was. This house was the definition of “they don’t make them like this anymore.”
My bedroom was the same Alice’s room, and it really did have windows that went into another room instead of going outside. It was built onto multiple times, giving it an almost Winchester Mystery House feel to it. Hallways would double back on themselves, and the first time you walked through, you’d end up in places you weren’t expecting.
I knew that one day I’d want that house to feature in one of my books. I wanted it to feel like a character in the story. I hope I did it justice.
Did you write in silence, or to any particular music?
I usually write in silence, but music is still an important part of the process. I usually like to have a “theme” song for each book. Something that I can just listen to over and over while I’m driving. I usually live with a new book almost every moment of the day, and even when I’m busy with other stuff, the story’s not far away. Having a good song helps me daydream in new directions so to speak.
Did you find it hard to write? Or harder to edit your own work?
Drafts are almost always a ball to work on. Occasionally, I get stuck, but usually, it’s smooth sailing until I have to actually clean up this mess I’ve made. I used to hate editing, but, for me at least, making peace with it was a big part of me maturing as a writer. A book’s not really written until you’ve had to dig around in it half a dozen times.
What are you writing now?
I’m actually switching things up a bit in my career. I’m working on a middle-grade book. It’s still right up my alley…monsters, magic, all that fun stuff. It’s just a bit toned down for a different audience.
Was this book inspired by any actual events?
Well, the house that inspired this book was supposedly haunted. And, while I usually don’t believe too much of that stuff, I did have one moment in particular that’s always stuck with me.
I had an old lamp in my room just next to my bed, and it wasn’t unheard of for it to turn off while I was reading at night. I always chalked it up to how old the lamp was. But one night, when I was just about asleep, it came ON. That scared the hell out of me. I think it took me a few hours to doze back off after that.
You’ve written several books that focus on children. Any specific reason for that?
I think it just happened naturally. I mean, my kids are young, so I get to see all the things that scare them. My son in particular loves to just talk on and on about scary stuff. There’s something very childlike and innocent about horror stories about kids. I know some people like the gorier stuff (and I do to), but I keep finding myself back in a more fairy tale sort of story. Hopefully, my audience appreciates it.
Being from the South, does that feeling play into your books?
Sometimes it does. I think some of my books could be read as almost geographically neutral, but occasionally, I do drift into a more southern style of story. I think it all depends on how much I want that southern voice to shine through. Several of my books really lean into that.
Is there any sequel potential for One by One?
Not for this one, but I do have several ideas for series that I’d like to get around to. I really like the idea of having a continuing sort of mythology, but it needs to be the right time. I’d really only want to do it if it was distinct and different.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One by One is a fairly standard haunted house horror story. We follow a young girl, Alice as her parents uproot her from her childhood home to an old building with hidden charms that comes at a suspiciously low price. There are spooky noises in the night, a mysterious diary, rooms with secrets, a snow storm to block them in and then family members start to go missing. There’s nothing really earth shaking or new about the plot but it’s a solid story and kept my attention all the way through. It’s quite a quick read – I managed to finish it in a day and it kept me hooked throughout although I must admit I didn’t exactly feel scared at any point during the book. I liked the twist at the end although I did see it coming before the reveal. The main character of Alice felt a lot older than her age of 10, and her brother Dean also seemed older than 14 – the way he spoke to his parents (and the fact they allowed him to behave that way!) didn’t feel realistic for someone so young. I think overall I would have liked a little more backstory on Mary’s family – the diary entries that gave us a glimpse into her life just felt a little too brief and vague to draw me into her story. Although I enjoyed the twist, I felt that actually it threw up a few plot holes to the more ‘horror’ elements of the story with hindsight. Overall One by One is a fast paced read, but one that it is perhaps not wise to peer too deeply into. Thank you to NetGalley & Flame Tree Press for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
10 year old Alice and her family are leaving behind suburbia and moving into an old farmhouse type house. Her father, recently under-employed, believes the house will be their financial saving grace. His enthusiasm for the house passes to Alice. However, Alice quickly changes her view of the house after unearthing a drawing in the downstairs hall. Hidden under old wallpaper is a child’s drawing of 2 parents, 2 children, and a dog. Just like Alice’s family, except for a cat replacing the dog. A mysterious knocking at her bedroom window in the middle of the night followed by the appearance of a diary leave Alice believing there is more to the house than meets the eye. The diary belonged to Mary, who lived in the house prior to Alice’s family. It starts as Mary is a young girl, just about Alice’s age. Mary is the kind of girl Alice would like to be more like; outgoing, confident, a badass. As Mary grows older, the stories she writes become grim and angry. Something terrible must have happened to her, but what? Alice’s parents deny any knowledge of who lived in the house before or what may have befallen Mary. As time goes by Alice’s father becomes more and more agitated and mean. A once in a decade snow storm covers their Tennessee town and leave Alice and her brother home alone with their parents having difficulty making it home from work. The kids explore the woods behind the house and discover the shed Mary mentioned in her diary. Daddy’s Place, Mary had written. Alice knew something bad happened there. Something is definitely wrong at the house, but 10 year old Alice can’t figure it out and is alone in her fear and distrust. As one by one, her family disappears; their likeness on the drawing in the hall is marked out by a black X. Little Alice must figure out what is going on and how to save her family…..and herself. I loved this book. It was especially scary as it was told through the eyes and mind of a 10 year old girl. I finished this book in two sittings. I would have finished it in one if I hadn’t started so late in the evening. By 2 AM, I HAD to put the book down and go to sleep. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. The detail and descriptiveness were excellent. I was able to completely visualize Alice’s surroundings. More importantly, the depth of which the relationships between Alice and her family members were detailed was amazing. You could feel the love between each member of the family as equally as the tension and fear. Well done! I would recommend this book to any of my friends or family.
This is one of those book you cannot read at nighttime if you want to be able to sleep. It's creepy, well written and it kept me hooked till the last page. Highly recommended! Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
A family buys an old house that needs some love and repair. Their daughter Alice enjoys the new place at first. It's fun to explore and discover things about the old house. But when a child's drawing is found on a wall underneath old wallpaper, the sinister side of the house is revealed. OMG! This story creeped me the hell out! As mysterious X's started to appear on the drawing, Alice's family starts to disappear...one.....by......one. Such a creepy-cool atmospheric story! I loved it! Yes, that is a lot of exclamation points....but this was a binge read for me, so it earned a few !s. Any book that keeps me up until 3 am reading is a great story....IMHO. I'm a big fan of this sort of horror. Atmospheric.....a creepy old house with evil lurking. Innocent characters....a family who just wants a fixer-upper to turn into a happy home. And some slow burn suspense. Nicely done! This is the second book I've read by D.W. Gillespie. I enjoyed The Toy Thief as well. Definitely looking forward to more by this author! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
Title: One By One Author: D.W.Gillespie Genre: horror Pages:240 Rating: 4 The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child’s drawing of a family just like hers. Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child’s drawing with a dark black X. It’s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim. My thoughts This is my first book by this author and i do have to admit that it was the title and the cover that got me to request it from Netgalley , and I'm so glad I did , the way the author wrote about the house and described it give me goosebumps and made me feel like I was actually in the house , as well as made me never want to step foot in that creepy place.From start to finish it Dynamic, atmospheric, exciting and while keep you on the edge of you set as your reading it ,with that said I want to say thank you to Netgalley for letting me read and review it .