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The Dead House

The Dead House

... the past holds constant sway ...

Perched on an incline, with the land spilling down to a glittering sea, sits a ruined cottage. It calls to Maggie Turner, who is running from her own demons. But this house has a long, grim history, and has known hard living and far too much death. In some places, some things are better left undisturbed. A modern ghost story by a masterful writer.

Hardback: €12.99
Hardback: 224 pages
Size:216x138 mm
ISBN: 9781847178879

E-Book (ePub): €8.99
Also available as an E-Book (ePub)
ISBN: 9781847179340

Attempting to rebuild her life after a violent relationship, Maggie Turner, a successful young artist, moves from London to Allihies and buys an ancient abandoned cottage. Keen to concentrate on her art, she is captivated by the wild beauty of her surroundings.

After renovations, she hosts a house-warming weekend for friends. A drunken game with a Ouija board briefly descends into something more sinister, as Maggie apparently channels a spirit who refers to himself simply as 'The Master'. The others are visibly shaken, but the day after the whole thing is easily dismissed as the combination of suggestion and alcohol.

Maggie immerses herself in her painting, but the work devolves, day by day, until her style is no longer recognisable. She glimpses things, hears voices, finds herself drawn to certain areas: a stone circle in the nearby hills, the reefs at the west end of the beach behind her home ... A compelling modern ghost story from a supremely talented writer.

From the Costa Short Story Award Finalist, Billy O'Callaghan.

‘a welcome voice to the pantheon of new Irish writing’ - Edna O’Brien

Billy O'Callaghan

Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of three previous short story collections: In Exile (2008) and In Too Deep (2009), both published by the Mercier Press, and The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind (2013) published by New Island Books, the title story of which earned him the 2013 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year.

The recipient of literature bursaries from the Arts Council in 2010 and the Cork County Council in 2015 among several other honours, including the Molly Keane Award and the George A. Birmingham Award, his work has been broadcast on RTE Radio One's Book On One, Sunday Miscellany and the Francis MacManus Awards series. He has also been short-listed on four occasions for the RTE/P.J. O'Connor Award for Radio Drama.

Over the past fifteen years, his short stories have appeared in some ninety literary magazines and journals around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, Bliza, Confrontation, the Fiddlehead, the Forge Magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal, London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative Magazine, the Southeast Review, Southword, Versal, and Yuan Yang: a Journal of Hong Kong and International Writing. New work is forthcoming in Salamander, the Emerson Review and Valparaiso Fiction Review. He also contributes regular book reviews to the Irish Examiner.

Billy won second place in the 2017 Costa Short Story Awards for his story The Boatman.

… a contemporary ghost story that will chill you to your bones.


Still you keep reading, half-believing that dark forces are stirring, the way you might feel a planchette sliding across a Ouija board. Is it really happening? Or are you convincing yourself there’s more going on here than there really is? Either way, you enjoy the creepy thrill.

New York Times Book Review

a solid addition to the treasury of campfire ghost stories … charged and eerie

Wall Street Journal

a subdued chiller … there will be more than a few goosebumps raised before the reader finishes this one

NY Journal of Books

chilling, beautifully written first novel … Fans of psychological thrillers with a ghostly undercurrent will be richly rewarded

Publishers Weekly

A moving work that builds to an elegiac climax and is a welcome voice to the pantheon of new Irish writing.

Edna O'Brien

fills you with a psychological dread that is hard to shake … Billy O’Callaghan is one of those types of storytellers whose prowess is clearly on display with his impressive début novel

in a first-person voice unlike any other I’ve come across, O’Callaghan gifts us with a story that unfolds in just the way you’d want to hear it by the fireside … best not read at night. And yet I’d be hard-pressed to label 'The Dead House' a ghost story; though it is that, it is more … All praise 'The Dead House.' Do yourself a favor and get ahold of this book

O’Callaghan slowly unsettles the reader, line by line, as reality is questioned … skilfully conjures up a sense of dread, while at the same time creating a psychological internal terror for his characters … a superb debut novel from an extremely skilled Irish writer

Evening Echo

the all-nighter read … from the very first chapter, there’s an eerily beautiful stillness to Billy O’Callaghan’s debut … an engrossing, striking debut from an Irish talent

Image Magazine

beautifully eerie tale, a feast for your eyes, a torment for your mind. The exquisite cover immediately called to me, I found myself bewitched and reaching out to touch it. A house sits at the centre of this tale, a house bought as a means to escape, to reconnect, to exist at one with the surroundings. Michael invites us to listen to a story, and he paints a picture for you to taste, to feel. The descriptions are striking, particularly of the people, filling my eye and mind with their essence. Yet a trickle of unease hovers over the pages, encouraging thoughts to flicker, leaving you teetering on the edge of fear. Billy O’Callaghan writes with a skilfully light touch, this isn’t a terrifying, afraid to sit in the dark tale, it’s more subtle than that, instead it will creep inside minds, slice a little space for itself, and take up residence. ‘The Dead House’, with a shiver-inducing final few pages, is a wonderfully mesmerising read, and I loved it


a skilfull, entertaining piece of work: a traditional ghost story in the best possible sense … The Dead House fulfils its formal obligations with subtlety and grace … in particular, Michaels’ voice … affords considerable readerly pleasure … O’Callaghan’s descriptive prose reaches impressive heights

Sunday Business Post

Busy week for book delivery but this one wins best cover @OBrienPress

RTE’s Arts correspondent Sinead Crowley

I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault ... O’Callaghan is a treasure of the English language.

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind [is a] masterclass in understatement

Dermot Bolger, Irish Independent

moments of insight and profundity which could only come from the mind of one who has known intimately the heartache and loss experienced by the characters he writes about ... superlative writing

Writerful Books, Australia
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