This gothic chiller, first published in 1942 was re-issued in 2015 by Tramp Press as part of its Recovered Voices Series. I have been meaning to read The Uninvited for a while and I am glad that I have finally got around to Macardle’s tale of mysterious goings-on in a beautiful old Devonshire house. She scores points (for me at least) for setting the story in an elegant, well-proportioned jewel of a house in a scenic coastal location, instead of the more predictable turreted, crumbling, gloomy pile in the middle of a desolate misty moor.
The story begins with siblings Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald leaving London for a fresh beginning in the country, where Roderick plans to begin writing a book in rural peace. They have bought a house from the elderly Commander Brooke and his granddaughter Stella Meredith, for whose family the house was originally built. But five generations later, why the wish to sell? And why is the property such a bargain? Local gossip soon reveals that the house was witness to two strange deaths and has been shuttered and neglected for fifteen years. Previous tenants had reported ‘disturbances’ and left in haste never to return. The chills increase as Roddy and Pamela discover more about the previous events and encounter strange happenings in the house.
I won’t risk plot spoiling but suffice to say that that the Fitzgeralds reach the point of considering giving up the house as things continue to go bump in the night (well, they don’t exactly bump, but you get what I mean). The atmosphere becomes menacing and Macardle builds up the tension beautifully. I stayed up late determined to finish the book, though perhaps this is not the best book to be reading late at night.