One of the things I love about Gemma Amor’s books is you never know quite what to expect from one to the next. We’ve had gritty serial killers (Dear Laura), Cosmic Horror Cults (White Pines) and Superheroes (Girl on Fire). With ‘Six Rooms’ we get a Haunted House tale that may well be her best work to date.

The Sunshire Chateau, now a tourist attraction open to the general public, was once the sprawling and decadent home of Charles Lester and his wife Rose. Charles was a wealthy businessman and entrepreneur, whose high standing and immense riches were reflected in his grandiose home.

Behind closed doors, Charles Lester was also a tyrant. Between the four walls of Sunshire he committed terrible acts which went undiscovered during his lifetime. When the latest tour group arrives to get a rare glimpse inside the Chateau, there will be more than dusty heirlooms waiting for them. While no living man bore witness to Charles Lester’s depravities, the dead don’t forget so easily.

book cover for Six Rooms by Gemma Amor

The way the novel is structured is unlike any book I have ever read before. As the group tour the house, each room has a portion of the book dedicated to it, in which one of the characters gets their spotlight, and a further piece of the puzzle is revealed. The premise itself is more than enough to keep you engaged, and there is a general feeling of unease from the moment the present-day cast of characters arrive at Sunshire. Little by little, small details are dropped in, hinting at the bigger picture and the pacing is note-perfect, always giving just enough so that you can’t stop reading, but never too much to spoil what’s to come.

Mixed into the story of the ill-fated tourists we also meet the former owners of the house in the form of flashbacks. The way these flashbacks slot into the wider narrative was ingenious and they never feel jarring or drag down the pacing. Every flashback provides a little more context for the strange goings-on the modern-day characters are experiencing, as well as providing an engrossing tale in their own right. The introduction of Charles Lester in particular really makes the story a memorable one, as he is just the kind of character who you love to hate and he’s an absolute scene-stealer whenever he makes an appearance.

For all the characters in the book, both those we meet in flashback and the modern-day visitors, it’s the house itself that will leave the biggest impact. Amor’s loving descriptions paint a vivid picture of a most unusual house that is packed full of character. Readers will find themselves switching between wishing it were a real place they could visit, and being damn glad it’s not.

Switching deftly between creepy, tense and heart-breaking and mixing classic ghost story tropes with an engaging murder mystery, ‘Six Rooms’ is unlike any other haunted house novel you’ve ever read. Gemma Amor has quickly become one of my favourite horror writers working today, and Six Rooms will no doubt bring a lot more readers round to the same conclusion.

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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