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Literature / In the Shadow of Spindrift House

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Nature abhors a straight line.
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A 2019 Horror novella written by Seanan McGuire under her pen name, Mira Grant.

For Harlowe Upton-Jones, life has never been a straight line. Shipped off to live with her paternal grandparents after a mysterious cult killed her mother and father, she has grown up chasing the question behind the curve, becoming part of a tight-knit teen detective agency. But “teen” is a limited time offer, and when her friends start looking for adult professions, it’s up to Harlowe to find them one last case so that they can go out in a blaze of glory.

Welcome to Spindrift House.

The stories and legends surrounding the decrepit property are countless and contradictory, but one thing is clear: there are people willing to pay a great deal to determine the legal ownership of the house. When Harlowe and her friends agree to investigate the mystery behind the manor, they do so on the assumption that they’ll be going down in history as the ones who determined who built Spindrift House—and why. The house has secrets. They have the skills. They have a plan. They have everything they need to solve the mystery.

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Everything they need except for time. Because Spindrift House keeps its secrets for a reason, and it has no intention of letting them go.


Tropes appearing in this work include:

  • All Love Is Unrequited: Harlowe has been in love with Addison for years, but Addison does not reciprocate.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Harlowe has very poor vision with out her glasses. At least, until she spends time in Spindrift House.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's repeatedly stated that Addison is skilled at taking down bad guys by punching them in the throat. When confronted by the possessed Harlowe, she attempts to use the technique on her, to no avail.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: It's implied that the story is set in this setting, as Harlow mentions the possibility of attending Miskatonic University and Port Mercy is a town being influenced by what seem to be the Deep Ones in the same way that Innsmouth was.
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  • Deconstruction: A loving one of the "teen detectives" trope—eventually, teen detectives stop being, well, teens, and have to figure out what else they're going to do, because adults don't get leeway for things like breaking and entering like kids do and have to pay their own insurance bills.
  • Dying Town: Port Mercy is a two-fold example, as not only is its economy failing and its residents moving away, but, due to global warming, it is literally sinking into the ocean.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Spindrift House as an unpleasant, rotting smell.
  • Expy: The Answer Squad is one as a whole to Mystery Inc.:
  • Fish People: The creatures that members of the Upton, Pickwell and Latour families become, heavily implied to be Deep Ones.
  • Foreshadowing: There are many hints throughout the story that Harlowe is a Deep One hybrid with the first being that her mother was a marine biologist.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Harlowe, the daughter of a human father and a Deep One mother.
  • In the Blood: Harlowe certainly seems to think that, due to her Deep One heritage, her coming to Spindrift House was inevitable.
  • Ill Girl: Harlowe has chronic headaches, which, along with her awful eyesight, appear to be a result of being half-fish-person and growing up on land.
  • Lovecraft Country: Takes place in the fictional town of Port Mercy, Maine.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Port Mercy is a dying Stormalong Harbor variation.
  • One Last Job: The Spindrift House case is supposed to serve as a final hurrah for the group and net them enough money to start their adult lives—or, as Harlowe hopes even though she knows it's probably futile, convince the others to stay together and keep being detectives. Naturally, it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Only Kevin makes it out. Harlowe has to stay and the other two die.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: As it turns out, Addison has always known about Harlowe's crush on her, and figures out Harlowe is possessed because "she" isn't looking at Addison like she loves her.
  • Slow Transformation: Harlowe hypothesizes that a Deep One's human form is comparable to that of a tadpole, with the slow transformation being due to the Deep One's overall lengthy lifespan.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted; although it seems like Andy is alright after he falls down the stairs and hits his head, that's not the case. In fact it killed him, and a ghost possessed his body.
  • X Meets Y: Scooby-Doo meets The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
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