House of Echoes

House of Echoes

by Brendan Duffy


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In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.

Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.

When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.

House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.

Praise for House of Echoes

“Warning: Brendan Duffy’s debut novel is not for scaredy-cats. If you live for heart-racing chills, this thriller—about a young family that packs up their life in Manhattan for a spot in upstate New York (that turns out to be haunted, of course)—is already calling out your name.”Refinery29

“Already drawing comparisons to Stephen King’s The Shining, Brendan Duffy’s debut novel offers chills without sacrificing character development. But be warned: you might want to leave the lights on for this one.”Paste

“Shades of The Shining are spattered through Brendan Duffy’s debut novel—a large isolated house, a young family, nutty and somewhat supernatural goings-on—but House of Echoes grounds itself in different ways for an enjoyable read.”USA Today

“An exquisite novel . . . expertly plotted, beautifully written . . . It’s complex, deft and, once you dive in, you want to stay in this often-scary world. . . . This is a book that deserves to be savored.”The Star-Ledger

“Duffy’s debut is a riveting blend of horror and family drama. The remote location, creepy townspeople and the village’s savage history produce a harrowing tale that keeps readers quickly turning the pages. As this complex family struggles with mental illness and their child’s isolation, their redemption comes in the revelation that they can survive anything together.”RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars)
House of Echoes is one of those stories where you know something bad is going to happen, but you hope it won’t. It’s one you’ll remember long after reading the last page.”New York Journal of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804178136
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 164,812
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Brendan Duffy is an editor. He lives in New York, where he is at work on his second novel.

Read an Excerpt


There were times in each day when Ben believed a happier life waited only for them to claim it. He was a dreamer by trade, and it didn’t seem far-­fetched to hope their troubles would depart as quickly as they had surfaced. Such optimism was purest in the clear mornings when he took Hudson on the day’s first walk.

Spring had come late but suddenly. The last of the snow had melted only weeks ago; now the grass was nearly to Ben’s waist. He monitored Hudson’s progress through the fields by reading the furrow carved by the beagle’s passage.

The dew had evaporated but its chill lingered, and the breeze carried its own bite. The wind was strong and invigorating on this part of the Drop—­the plateau that sat in the lap of two mountains, hulking cousins of the Adirondack Range. The updraft from the valley sent the acreage undulating as if it were a single breathing thing.

He put his hand to his eyes to shield them against a gust and did his best to keep track of the dog. Hudson had picked up the scent of something and filled the air with his ecstatic baying. No one was happier about the Tierneys’ new life in the mountains than the beagle. His previous circumstances having amounted to little more than a Manhattan apartment, Hudson hardly knew what to do with a thousand acres of field, forest, and lake. If he missed his dog-­walk runs and leashed jaunts down the avenues, he hid it well.

Ben smiled and dropped his hand to his pocket, searching for his phone before remembering that he’d left it back at the Crofts, their home on the Drop. He hardly carried it around anymore, but like a phantom limb he sometimes imagined its presence.

He watched the dog dart from the field and across the gravel drive that connected the Crofts with the county road nearly a mile away. The husk of a shattered outbuilding was just a hundred yards off the drive, on the near side of another copse of trees, and the beagle made straight for it.

Ben cupped his hands around his mouth and called Hudson’s name. Ruined structures of uncertain purpose were scattered across the Drop, but Ben had picked his way through this particular one not long after he and Caroline had closed on the property. The place was a mess. The roof had caved in, and the rotting floor was on the brink of collapse under the weight of rusting farming equipment and other scrap. Anyone could see it was a death trap.

He called Hudson again, but he was too far away; Ben could feel his shout whipped back to him by the steady wind from the valley.

Clearing these outbuildings was something Ben had wanted taken care of before they moved in, but that was a battle he’d lost. Caroline thought that they contributed to the ambience. She imagined the guests at their inn roaming the grounds, delighting in the discovery of some ancient building from a forgotten time. She said this would give their guests a sense of ownership over their stays at the Crofts, so that the Tierneys’ inn would become a place they’d return to year after year.

Their son, Charlie, was forbidden from venturing anywhere near the ruined buildings, but even an eight-­year-­old was easier to control than a beagle that had just plucked a tantalizing smell from the air.

Ben broke into a run when he cleared the tall grass. He’d lost sight of Hudson, but a mournful howl told him the dog was close by.

The wind backed off as Ben ran across the gravel drive, and he didn’t need to be a dog to pick out the scent that had captured Hudson’s attention. It was a musky smell with metallic notes, the tang of an animal, a tease of death that hadn’t yet turned sweet.

Ben reached the building and was greeted by Hudson, eyes big and beseeching, tongue wagging.

“In trouble again,” Ben said.

He crouched to give Hudson a rough rub around his neck, and the beagle’s panting slowed.

“You stink, too.” His hands came away from the dog, smeared red. He resisted the impulse to wipe them on his jeans.

Hudson gave a short bark and executed a small circle in front of Ben.

“All right, show me,” Ben told him, and followed the dog around the shattered building.

He wasn’t surprised by the death; he had guessed as much from the smell. It was the blood that caught him short.

The animal looked as if it had burst. The creature’s entrails were spread over several yards in two perpendicular streaks of intersecting gore.

“No, Hudson,” Ben said, as the dog started sniffing the mess.

The smell was stronger here, but not as bad as Ben had expected. The pools of blood were liquid, rippling in the breeze. The absence of birds and other scavengers made Ben think this hadn’t been here long. A fresh kill.

His eyes scanned the ruined canvas of the animal and settled on a pair of prim gray hooves. A deer, Ben thought with some relief. The anonymous quality of the shredded viscera had made his imagination spin.

The beagle walked through the carnage and began nosing around the edge of the woods.

“Might have been a bear,” Ben told Hudson.

He’d heard coyotes at night, but the men in town told him there were black bears in the woods. They’d also told him that there were wolves and mountain lions up here on the Drop, but he’d actually seen the bear tracks for himself along the edge of the lake.

“Come on,” he said.

Hudson started to bark at the trees.

“We’ll have to hose you down before you go inside.”

Ben headed back toward the gravel drive, hoping the dog would follow. But Hudson wouldn’t stop growling at the forest. Ben squinted to see what might have caught the beagle’s attention. He was a good dog and rarely fussed without a reason.

“Let’s go, Hud.” Ben turned away from the woods and took some of yesterday’s bacon out of a plastic bag he kept in his pocket. “Look what I’ve got for you.”

Hudson veered around and licked the bacon fragments from Ben’s hand.

“Come on, you smelly dog,” he said, rubbing Hudson on the side of one ear. He took off in a jog back to the Crofts, and the beagle trotted after him.

A great elm stood a solitary watch on the lip of the Drop, and when Ben reached its shadow he glanced back at the woods by the ruined building. All he saw were trees rocking gently in the updraft from the valley.


The Crofts was a monster.

The lawyer who’d handled the sale told Ben it had been the original home of the Swann family, the first colonists to settle the Drop. It had begun as a simple residence, but he said they’d added to it over the years. Then again, that had been obvious.

Rising to four floors, the house had sixty-­five rooms, five entryways, and four staircases. Though sections of the building had been constructed centuries apart, its exterior was wrapped in uniform walls of gray granite. It sat like a castle on the lip of the Drop, overlooking the village of Swannhaven and the rest of the valley.

It had been a farming estate and was ancient by the metric of the New World, built back when agriculture was the only game in the rambling North Country. It hadn’t been a fully operational farm since the 1940s, but the outlines of the old fields remained, as did the bones of stone walls and survivor strains of wheat, rye, and barley grown wild.

Ben had seen castles a third its size. And while the scale of the place was imposing, its opulence was tempered by its condition. Parts of the residence hadn’t been inhabited in decades, its last owners spinster sisters who’d lived their entire lives within these walls. Ben didn’t know what two old women were doing so far from the village in such a huge house, but he could see it hadn’t involved much in the way of home maintenance. Water stains marked the ceilings, warped planks buckled the floors, and windows rattled in their frames.

Sometimes he looked at the Crofts and saw a sprawling monument to impetuous decision-­making. But in moments of hope, Ben saw an ember waiting to be rekindled. They were ready to put their sweat into the place; he hoped only that the Crofts would accept it.

“Windy out there,” he told Charlie when he opened the side door and stepped into the kitchen. He made right for the sink, giving the soap dispenser a double pump before nudging the handle to hot.

From their first tour of the place, Caroline had been convinced they could renovate the entire estate by themselves. Ben had his doubts. He had insisted that contractors add air-­conditioning, install bathrooms in the guest rooms, and upgrade the plumbing and electrical. He could take his chances sanding floors and painting walls, but he thought anything involving pipes, wires, or gas lines was worth paying for. It had taken a team of live-­in workers some months to get the house into shape before the Tierneys moved in.

Though budget-­conscious, Caroline had taken up cooking again and spared no expense in updating the kitchen in a modern French country style. Two walls of custom-­made cabinets flanked a professional Wolf range with two large ovens. The original floor had been ripped up in favor of wide-­plank antique walnut. Gray granite counters gleamed under inset lighting.

When they weren’t working to renovate the rest of the house, they spent most of their waking hours here. At first it had been only for meals, then Charlie had begun reading in one of the corners instead of in his own room, then Ben and Caroline had moved their laptops to a side table. Ben told Caroline it might have been withdrawal from their close city living that led them to cluster together in this small room, but the truth was that he felt like an intruder anywhere else in the vast place.

“Where’s Hudson?” Charlie asked through a full mouth. He and Bub were seated at the table, which held four plates of pancakes, each stacked six inches high.

“He made a mess of himself out there,” Ben told him. “I’ll clean him off after I eat.” He watched the last of the blood-­tinged water swirl out of sight.

“Mom made pancakes,” Charlie said.

“I can see that.” Ben dried his hands and kissed Bub on the head. The baby gurgled and showed him the pancake he was playing with.

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House of Echoes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic read-- edge of your seat suspense but still exquisite writing. I loved this book-- I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a beautifully written page turner.
19galaxie66 More than 1 year ago
I hate it how others spoil a story.....soooo I'm just going to say it was good.Worth reading!
GroovyAnne More than 1 year ago
A thriller in the vein of Stephen King. I really enjoyed reading it, and at the end I couldn't put it down until I had finished it!
ThomasBurke More than 1 year ago
Great character development.  Loved the story line that kept me guessing until the very end. A wonderful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, engaging characters. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
enjoyable story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would recommend this novel. Surprise ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stick with it, it gains momentum. It ends up being a fine story.
Palegirl More than 1 year ago
I am always in pursuit of great creepy thrillers. Especially a good story that adds some historical fiction flavor. Maybe haunted, maybe not. Just as long as it gives the creepy tingle up the spine. House of Echoes is that story. It has perfect pacing, starting out in the hazy, dreamy days of summer. Something is not right with the inn the Tierney's are renovating and living in, and there's something off about the small, unfriendly village where it's located. And the creepiness sets in. The storytelling is superb (and certainly a nod to Stephen King), while the writing is crisp, clean, and uncluttered. The multiple viewpoints, from well-defined characters adds dimension and suspense. Throw in some great twists and eery atmosphere and House of Echoes was one of the best thrillers I've read in a very long time. I was riveted start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hooked to this book and finished it in a few days. I never got bored at all.
McWood More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book.  The beginning has a slow-burn of a creepy, gothic-type feel.  I was often guessing what the twist would be, but I didn't guess it correctly.  The last third of the book, once the real build-up and action began, I just could NOT put it down.  I was so emotionally invested that I stayed up from midnight to 2am to finish it.  I'm not huge on scary, suspense books, but this had just enough of a creep-you-out factor with a guessing game of what is real or not to be a fun read that challenged my scaredy-cat ways.  
Graywolf More than 1 year ago
Great book. The characters were well written and the story was really interesting. You'd think that it was one thing or something, then you found out you were wrong. I also found the characters to be realistic. What they would have thought or what they would have done was realistic and I could see people actually doing or thinking the things that they did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a little slow to get started. Great character development. The build-up to the suspenseful end was an enjoyable read. It really had me guessing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable, fast paced book, classic haunted woods story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good easy quick read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot is similar to stories told over the years, but The House of Echoes is a far better telling. The characters feel real... I could'nt turn the pages fast enough at times..
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Ben and Caroline are starting over with an old house in upstate New York. The plan is to restore this house and have an Inn for travelers. This old estate holds more secrets and mysteries than they plan on. This is unique and twisted tale. The history of the area, the history of the house, Charlie's adventures, all of this envelopes the reader and takes hold. Are you reading a ghost story, a history story or a horror story. The author spectacularly weaves a tale full of anxiety and tension. I literally had to pause several times to take a breath. I had no idea where this story was headed. The anticipation built throughout the novel is brilliant. I enjoyed the setting of the house and grounds. I wanted so badly to see a picture of the house just to see if it matched what I envisioned. The characters are, I hate to use the word unique again, but they are...unique. The only reason I am not giving this a 5 star rating is the son, Charlie. His dialogue and interactions are not consistent. One minute he almost acts too adult and the next too childish. I am looking forward to more from this author. If you need a thriller to keep you up at night.....THIS IS IT!! I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
quibecca More than 1 year ago
4.5 STARS ACTUALLY!!!! I have been reading some creepy books lately. I love them. I don't know why, I just do. I picked this one up at Barnes and Noble a while back because I loved the cover. I have a habit of doing that....Thankfully this book didn't disappoint. Ben and Caroline move their family from Manhattan to a small village in upstate New York, called Swannhaven. Doesn't it just sound beautiful? It does to me. Ben has inherited this big beautiful estate and he and his wife Caroline plan to restore it and make it a hotel. The town seems to be a sweet quaint town with lots of history. Ben and Caroline have had some issues and felt like moving their family here would help them restore their fragile relationship. Caroline had been diagnosed bipolar and was just getting back on her feet. Ben was a writer who found this place a nice change of pace to write. Ben's son Charlie is loving being in this new house where he can venture outside as much as he wants. That is until his father finds some animals mutilated and cannot determine what it was that is doing the killings. He tells his son to stay closer to home from now on. Things only seem to get stranger from that point on. This book is so stinking creepy. A huge house, that makes noises at night. A forest, where animals keep getting ripped apart. A beloved family dog goes missing. A little boy stays hours on end in the forest talking to "something". Pictures drawn with mysterious people in the smoke. You name it....something probably happened in this book. I am so glad I read this now, and not when I was staying in a cabin in the woods. This book was almost impossible to put down. I was so creeped out and totally drawn into this bizarre world. The writing is amazing, the characters are fantastic and the people in the town are right out of a scary movie. It was FABULOUS. When you get to the end, it's like "WHAT"!!!! In a good way. Kind of creepy way..hehe Just an all around great book.
MEGolden19 More than 1 year ago
I was insanely bored by this book. I read about 250 pages and NOTHING happened. I kept waiting for it to get intense, kept waiting for someone to snap and kill and/or maim something or someone. Nope. Nothing. By page 250, there was absolutely nothing holding my interest about this story. I can't say I recommend it, but I can't promise everyone will dislike it, either. Read at your own risk- of boredom.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
House of Echoes reads like your classic gothic horror novel: a gigantic mansion, a family moving in who already suffered through depression and trauma. I expected the mansion to be haunted but that’s not really the case – apart from some animal carcasses left on the new owner’s front porch, nothing really spooky is going on in relation to the mansion itself. Ben and Caroline and their two young boys move to a small, close-knit community to try and start over, running away from their dark and depressing past. But not all is as it seems in town, and their fresh start might turn into a nightmare. Ben is an author struggling to come up with a concept for his new book. Caroline lost her banking job and wants to renovate the mansion into a proper B&B. Charlie, their oldest son, is barely eight years old and struggled at his last school, since he was being bullied. They all want to make a fresh start, and at first, it seems to work. But then Caroline’s paranoia sets in, Ben is too focused on his book rather than on his family, and Charlie starts spending hours and hours in the woods. At the same time, the reader senses something is going on, and that something bad will happen soon, but the suspense keeps on lingering for several chapters until the big mystery is finally revealed. The book also has some letters dating from 1777 and detailing the horrors the ancestors of the town’s families went through. It’s a nice touch to combine past and present since the two are overwhelmingly interlinked throughout the book. It’s more of a paranormal mystery than a horror book though, and even after the big reveal, the book isn’t really scary. There are some build-ups throughout but most of them end up going nowhere. I’d expected the house to turn against them, but that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, while the story isn’t bad, it isn’t very original either. The writing is okay, but tends to take a while to get its point across, dragging out the narrative. And the characters, with the exception of Ben, are hard to relate to. The whole family lives seperate lives almost, and that would be all right if it didn’t cause the reader not to relate to any of them except Ben. Overall, it has an interesting premise but because it takes too long for anything spooky to happen, the reader feels more like they’re stuck reading Caroline’s diary of how she renovates this part of the house, decides to try out this recipe, and then repeats everything the next day. The pacing is simply too slow and the suspense isn’t high enough to warrant that. Most suspense build-ups end up going nowhere, and the end is a little anti-climatic at that point. Not bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it either. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book begins slowly. But don't give up on it. The build up is slow but the ending is a great finish. As another reviewer said a Stephen King ending. A good first novel for the author.
SierraKS95 More than 1 year ago
House of Echoes, while being the ‘family moves into a new house for a fresh start and creepy/weird things happen’ trope, is a refreshing debut adult thriller novel. The story follows the Tierney family: Ben, Caroline, Charlie, and Robert “Bub” in a third person omniscient point of view. I really enjoyed the thrills and how each one only caresses the surface and leaves you wanting to keep reading to know more. My only cons of the story is that I couldn’t really follow the families and who belonged where and did what but that may be because my eARC copy didn’t have a family tree to follow like the published copy will. I really don’t know how I felt about the ending since the last chapter is in a completely different style than the rest of the book but I liked that it was open-ended. Overall House of Echoes was an enjoyable and creepy read.