The Mansion is haunted by ancient prohibition-era ghosts who seem to have possessed the house’s personal assistant, Nellie. The only hope for the inhabitants are psychic twin seven-year-olds conceived on the estate.
Billy and Shawn were best college buddies who spent the two years following college living in a rural hovel near Shawn’s family’s ruined inn in upstate New York. While there, they tried, and failed, to develop the world’s first intuitive personal assistant they nicknamed Nellie. Instead, they developed the first non-binary programming language, Eagle Logic. When Billy runs off with Shawn’s girlfriend, Emily, Shawn becomes a famous tech billionaire similar to Steven Jobs. Billy marries Emily. He then sues Shawn for his share in the creation of Eagle Logic, and loses. Billy begins to drink heavily bankrupting his family until he is forced to enter rehab.
Ten years after initially leaving the hovel and almost two years sober, Billy is summoned by Shawn. Shawn has remodeled the inn into a modern resort called The Mansion and added an ostentatious personal living space called the Nest. More importantly, he has completed Nellie and installed her throughout the Nest. When Shawn asks Billy to fix a few bugs in Nellie while staying isolated in The Nest with Emily over the winter, Billy is quick to accept. Especially after hearing how much money he will make even if he can’t fix Nellie–$50,000 per month tax-free.
There are three parallel plots: present day with Nellie, the time when Shawn and Billy were living in the hovel, and Shawn’s youth in the now burned caretaker’s cottage. It is fascinating to see them twist around each other as the conclusion is reached.
The Mansion is marketed as a horror thriller, where the horror is driven by technology. However, I think it is better described as three, almost gothic, mysteries. There was much more an atmosphere of dread rather than true horror within these pages. Also, the pacing is too slow and syrupy for a thriller. It’s more Daphne Du Maurier than Stephen King or Michael Crichton. Therefore, it is recommended for gothic mystery fans who want to read something more modern than rain swept cliffs and foggy downs. 4 stars!
Thanks to Emily Bestler, Atria Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.