The House of Lost Souls is truly that: a place where evil flourishes, spawned one night at Fischer House in 1937. Post-World War I, the menace of Nazism has not wreaked its full havoc on the world yet certainly is a symptom of the continuing struggle between good and evil. Whatever event occurred that night, the repercussions roll silently through the years, linking an assortment of powerful characters including a Nazi sympathizer, Karl Fischer, and a well-known photographer, Pandora Gibson-Hoare.
A particular evil is unleashed at Fischerís private estate, where wealthy men experiment with the forces of life and death. Years later, unwitting newspaperman Paul Seaton offers to help his girlfriend finish her dissertation. His investigation into the subject of her work, the enigmatic, beautiful photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare, leads Seaton to unexpected places on a dark path that is eerily seductive and deadly: ďWhat I saw was no more or less than an abomination.Ē
After his encounter with Fischer House, Paulís life is in shambles, his relationship shattered, as he wanders from country to country in search of peace. Jobless, homeless, it takes hospitalization and long hours of therapy to render Paulís mind habitable, a wanderer whose soul remains in limbo.
Seaton is drawn back into the orbit of Fischer House when a group of students is taken there on a tragic outing for a class. As one young woman lies sedated to control the madness and horror that overtakes her with wakefulness, her brother, Nick Mason, determines to put an end to his sisterís suffering and destroy the evil at its source. When Mason confronts Seaton and forces him to reveal his part of the story, the final chapter is put into place. Seaton will have his day of reckoning at Fischer House.
Cottam builds the horror from the first page - a funeral where shimmering apparitions swell the group of mourners, where 1920ís music plays in the dead of night, where age and decay creep relentlessly over buildings. From the dark energy of the Nazi cause to modern-day London, Seatonís Irish soul suffers the vagaries of the unknown, the dead in lockstep with the living and sometimes difficult to distinguish apart.
The author dives into the heart of horror, where every vile image is possible and evil takes human form. We are forced to consider the impossible as two very different men, Seaton and Mason, approach Fischer House intending to put an end to the menace begun all those years ago. Fearless in his exploration of the otherworldly, Cottam has written a masterful treatment that is part horror, part revelation, the deepest, most frightening places in the human psyche exposed in a final battle.
This is the world that exists below the surface, reality peeled away to reveal depravity exalted. More than a ghost story (perhaps nearer Dan Simmonsí Carrion Comfort), this is a tale not easily put aside, where menace lurks just beyond the reach of the light in the middle of the night.