One By One – Book Review

One by One – D. W. Gillespie

Flame Tree Press, 2019

The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child’s drawing of a family just like hers. 

Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child’s drawing with a dark black X. It’s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim.

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I was hooked from the opening with this book, a very intricately woven family horror tale, narrated by the wise beyond her years Alice. At just 10 years old she is left to uncover the truth behind a sinister wall painting and find out just what is happening to her family.

The story begins with the family arriving at their new house, an absolute “steal” according to Frank, Alice’s father. Frank is prone to whimsical schemes and a bit of a dreamer, so when he buys this house it’s not surprising that the rest of the family isn’t exactly convinced.

Alice seems to connect on anther level with the house, she has her own narration of events in her head, from ‘Mary’, a girl who tragically died in the house. She know’s deep down that something is wrong and that something dark is t work, but she just can’t put her finger on it. When she finds the picture of the previous family under the wallpaper her suspicions seem to take on their own energy. A stick figure family, mother, father, son, daughter and the family pet – just the same as Alice’s family.

Their pet cat vanishes and at the same time a mysterious ‘X’ is drawn over the pet in the picture. The an ‘X’ is drawn over the boy, representing her brother Dean. Just what is happening to Alice’s family and what does ‘Mary’ have to do with it.

I love the mis-direct within the story – the reader is convinced it’s one thing happening when in fact it’s something even more sinister. The story of Mary and just what happened to her is an interesting and tragic tale. We get snippets throughout thanks to Mary’s diary after Alice comes across in and has to read it. It is a very well put together narrative, very clever yet simple at the same time, and for me, the characters, particularly Alice, really set this off.

One by One is my second read from D. W. Gillespie (thanks to Flame Tree Press for the eARC). I look forward to more.

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