In A House Full of Secrets, Vikki accepts an invitation from her good friend Niall to accompany him to his family weekend reunion in Lynes Glen, his childhood home in a remote part of Ireland. The county of Mayo, where Lynes Glen is located, is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, one the world’s longest defined coastal touring route that encompasses the breath-taking wilderness of the west coast of Ireland.
I’m fortunate to have been there; I’ve strolled along golden, secluded beaches and breathed the invigorating air, feeling as though I was walking along the edge of the world. I’ve marvelled at the savage beauty of majestic mountains, the lush, swooping valleys, the heather-coated hills. It is a landscape dotted with stone bridges arching over crystal mountain streams, and narrow, solitary roads that twist and wind into infinity around the never-ending folds and curves in the landscape. Then when I was reading a magazine article about the magic of county Mayo, the wonder of it all came back to me, and even before I got to the part where the article said that wifi could be a problem in certain spots, the seeds of the story were planted in my heart.
Drop an estranged family who are forced to spend time together in the sheer remoteness of it all for a long weekend, together with little or no connectivity to the outside world, and you have all sorts of story possibilities.
The beautiful and remote location is a character in itself and supports the plot. It is a soulful landscape that helped to forge the character of Leo, the patriarch of the family, it brings him peace and inspiration, and it forms the backdrop to his love affair with the dazzling Gabrielle.
On a sunny Friday afternoon, Vikki flies from London into Knock airport, hoping the weekend with Niall will help move their friendship up to the next level. She’d always sensed something different about him, compared to her London mates, but as soon as they begin the drive to Lynes Glen, she realises that, growing up in this remote and beautiful place, Niall’s background is totally at odds with hers, and before she even reaches Lynes Glen and meets Niall’s enigmatic sister, Lainey and his estranged brother Alex, she feels uneasy at the difference between them. It is a gulf that only widens as the weekend progresses and they spend time revisiting the haunts of Niall’s childhood against a stunning landscape soaked in memories and teeming with secrets and shadows.
The brooding mountain summit that the house backs on to, the trail though the forest, the lough that’s out of bounds, barricaded with fallen tree trunks, old gates, encroaching nature, and a crumbling ‘Danger: Keep out’ sign, all provide a sense of mystery and support a haunting atmosphere. It is an atmosphere in which the showing up of a ghost and a mysterious woman by the lough don’t seem inconceivable at all.
But when an Atlantic storm begins to rage, marooning the family in a world of their own, Vikki swiftly discovers that a Lynes Glen glazed in lemony-coloured sunshine is a very different proposition to a remote house battered with howling gale force winds, and surrounded by murky veils of cloud and rain, where strange incidents are taking place.
And that’s even before the family begin to realise that one of them is lying and someone is hell bent on exacting revenge for past hurts…
© 2018 Zoë Miller
This blog post first appeared on Agi’s blog On My Bookshelf as pat of the bog tour for A House Full of Secrets. I’d like to thank Agi for featuring me on her wonderful blog, it was a pleasure.