The Auld De'il: A Catherine Cavendish Book Review

On November 1, 1891, Miss Carmichael fell victim to a gang of ruffians and was beaten to death. In the town where it occurred, Edinburgh’s Henderson Close, her death is both a tragedy and the beginning of its end. It’s not until over a century later that the town goes from simple tourist attraction to paranormal hotspot.

In The Haunting of Henderson Close, Hannah moves to Edinburgh to start fresh as her daughter has moved to Australia and her marriage has ended. She sees her job as a tour guide for Henderson Close as a dream job. However, her arrival soon sparks mysterious paranormal activity that can’t be explained.

“…Her role is to take parties of visitors along the spooky, twisting streets, telling them old legends of ghosts, plague and interesting characters,” author Catherine Cavendish said. “All is going well for a short time but then Hannah starts to see things she cannot explain: a mysterious woman standing in the street below her flat – a woman who cannot be there, a slip in time back to the Henderson Close of Victorian times, a little girl with no face. All of a sudden, the legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real and the worst is yet to come.”

Along for the spooky ride are Hannah’s fellow tour guides, George and Mairead. They encounter disappearances, time jumps, paranormal investigators and an entity that the locals refer to as the Auld De’il. They take it upon themselves to not only solve the case of who really murdered Miss Carmichael but to drive the evil spirit back to where it came from.

The overall storyline is fascinating – from the underground town to the connection between Hannah, George and Mairead. The paranormal aspect is a well-blended mix of creepy and crawly. It’s a story that the reader immediately gets invested in and is fairly easy to complete within a day.

Unfortunately, the ending falls into a state of convolution. The last few chapters seem rushed compared to the rest of the book, and new plot points seem to come out of nowhere. By the time the last paragraph is finished, there are more questions than answers.

It would have been nice to delve more into the characters of George and Mairead instead of numerous trips to the pub and details on how Hannah’s husband left.  More time spent on their personalities and why they shared this connection might have given the reader more of an emotional attachment to the characters.

Historical Edinburgh comes alive through the pages of The Haunting of Henderson Close and brings along fantastical ghost stories. A skeptic can be turned into a believer after just one tour with Hannah, George or Mairead as their guide. But what exactly happened to them at the end?