Today we're excited to spotlight House of Ash by Hope Cook, plus author guest post, and giveaway!
Meet Hope Cook!
Meet House of Ash!
After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen- year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.
But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.
So! You’ve woken up in a gothic nightmare. But Hope, you say, how do I know I’m in a gothic nightmare?
Are you travelling to an enormous mansion ruled by a mysteriously wealthy man? When you arrive, do the servants seem a little strange? As if they don’t want to look you in the eye? Almost like...they know something?
When you enter the house, do you have a sense of an unseen, but somehow present intelligence, creeping in the darkness, creeping ever closer?
And most important of all: are one or both of your parents dead?
If you answered yes to these questions I’m sorry to break it to you, but you, my friend are in a Victorian Gothic novel.
But Hope, you over there say, there aren’t any castle-like mansions where I live. No drafty orphanages or asylums at the end of long, winding roads. I don’t even know any dudes with an English accent. I couldn’t possibly be in a Gothic novel, right?
Do you live in a small town that’s seen better days? Is your house old and creaky? Perhaps with a third floor? Do you feel judged by the faces of stern ancestors as you pass their photos in the darkening twilight?
Has there been tragedy in your past—so much that you sometimes wonder if a curse like a dark stain seeps down the roots of your family tree?
Has something strange happened to you in the woods lately? Do you have a sense of being followed, of a presence near or around or—maybe—in you? Do you feel your mind becoming a little unwound?
Yes, Hope, you whisper, your hands shaking, yes.
My condolences fair reader, my condolences. But you are most likely in a later manifestation of the Gothic novel—the Southern Gothic (or mayhap, the Southern Ontario Gothic) novel.
But despair not! I have advice to get you through the Victorian classic, the Southern alternative, and—God forbid—the unspeakable blending of the two. (But surely no one would be mad enough to do such a thing? Certainly not me.)
RULES FOR SURVIVING HOUSE OF ASH:
ONE: Surviving the Gothic novel is not about brute strength; it’s about intelligence. At the heart of the Gothic nightmare is a mystery that must be solved. So that said, grab your geek best friend. They are your most valuable asset. You probably don’t believe this because you’re a loner with control issues, but try to get over yourself long enough to let them in for five minutes. You’ll thank me later.
However, the best friend that would gladly die for you has one unfortunate down side, and that’s his really high IQ and general affection for reality. If you don’t have proof yet that otherworldy forces pursue you, then think up a good lie to explain your sudden interest in haunted houses, alchemy, and dead Victorians.
But YOU MUST let your adorably nerdy friend help with the research phase. They will make connections you won’t. They will also diffuse the tension with pop-culture jokes which are a welcome relief from your angst and growing existential dread.
TWO: Trust no adults. Like seriously, if you’ve watched at least three movies you already know this. The least likely suspect is probably evil; the obvious suspect is a red-herring with anger- control issues. Of course, all bets are off if there’s more than one villain. And if there’s more than one timeline? God help us all.
THREE: If you’ve woken up in a gothic mansion with a sophisticated but unnervingly reserved stepfather who stares at you meaningfully across rooms thick with family tension, first check your gender. If you’re a girl I’m sorry to break it to you, but there’s a 101% chance that you’re in a Victorian Gothic narrative, this house is evil, your step-Father is evil, and you’re gonna have to burn these mofos down. Loosen your corset, grab something sharp, and start watching people’s routines.
Do they go into one locked room a lot? There’s probably something important in there. You might want to check that out. Maybe start a cache of weapons under your bed.
Which leads us to number FOUR: Brush up on your lurking skills because getting out of here is guaranteed to be harder than just walking out the front door. There’s secrets in this house and you’re gonna have to find them.
Stealth and adaptability are your watchwords when an evil house is trying to kill you. For example, running in long hallways works best in bare feet. Those high-heeled boots are great for kicking evil stepfather’s in the nuts, but terrible for moving fast on ancient hardwood staircases or sneaking quietly in the dead of night across flagstones baptized in the blood of innocents. And while you’re running around...
...Prepare, prepare, prepare! Yes, this is tip number FIVE.
Have malevolent wind voices invaded your consciousness? Do you own a handy pocketknife? Make sure it’s on you at all times. Your phone too. You might need to call for help, shine a flashlight app into the face of an ancient horror, jimmy a lock, or stab evil people!
Don’t have a knife when you’re suddenly confronted with ultimate evil? Adapt to your surroundings! Embrace how many objects can become a knife if you get creative. Mirrors! Vases! Fancy crystal ashtrays! Also, can you use the element of surprise against your enemy? Are there dangerous ledges nearby? Are you willing to die if it means taking that bastard down with you? Only you can decide!
And finally, one last rule for surviving HOUSE OF ASH. Trust your gut. You know more than you think. Sometimes the monster seems unbeatable, and sometimes the monster seems like it might be you. Don’t give up. Fight to spite the evil; fight to spite the world; fight to prove them wrong. Fight to save someone who could love you; fight to come back to the people who do. Believe that even in the darkest hellscape light can shine through and give you strength to go on.
And when the fight is won, do something even scarier...be brave enough to hope. You might be at the start of something wonderful when the sun rises.
House of Ash
By: Hope Cook
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Five winners will receive a copy of House of Ash (US & Canada only).