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Magpie Hall

There were two rumours surrounding my great-great-grandfather Henry Summers: one, that his cabinet of curiosities drove him mad; and, two, that he murdered his first wife.

Rosemary Summers is an amateur taxidermist and a passionate collector of tattoos. To her, both activities honour the deceased and keep their memory alive. After the death of her beloved grandfather, and while struggling to finish her thesis on gothic Victorian novels, she returns alone to Magpie Hall to claim her inheritance: Grandpa’s own taxidermy collection, started more than 100 years ago by their ancestor Henry Summers. As Rosemary sorts through Henry’s legacy, the ghosts of her family’s past begin to make their presence known.

A modern-day ghost story with a twist, this is story-telling at its most visceral and sublime. Magpie Hall is a multi-layered story; a delectable Gothic novel inside a ghost story inside a Gothic novel.

Rachael King brings a sharp, dark edge to this literary drama and a playfulness to the genre of the Gothic novel. She recalls the ghostly spirit of Wuthering Heights and evokes past and present-day New Zealand with intelligence and ease.

Longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award




As someone who was certainly drawn to the book for its lovely mix of dark, freaky, romantic, historical and natural – I was left feeling moved and a little bereft. This is great stormy-weather cup-of-tea under-the-covers reading.

Angela Meyerauthor of A Superior Spectre

King had me gripped by the power of her writing…It is not my custom to give away all of a plot, so you will have to take my word for it – this is a superb second book: sharp and dark and very good.

North and South

The full cleverness of Rachael King’s second novel did not hit me until near the end… but all the while I was stepping into a carefully prepared trap… An assured performance, it confirms that King is not just a one-off talent but here for the long haul.

Iain SharpMetro

King is a hugely talented writer. Her prose is effortless, whether she is writing description or dialogue, in the English of the 21st or 19th century – there’s neither fuss nor frills, but absolute conviction.

The New Zealand Herald