The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press

The Cellar

by Minette Walters

“Reads like a recipe for evil and may well induce a nightmare or two . . . Sly pacing and a detached narrative voice give this horror story exceptional punch.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 192
  • Publication Date January 10, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2628-3
  • Dimensions 5" x 5"
  • US List Price $15.00
  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 192
  • Publication Date February 02, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2451-7
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $24.00

About The Book

From the internationally bestselling, award-winning crime writer Minette Walters, The Cellar is a harrowing, compulsively readable novel about a family of African immigrants, the Songolis, and the dark secret they keep hidden in the depths of their seemingly respectable house in the London suburbs.

On the day Mr. and Mrs. Songoli’s young son fails to come home from school, fourteen-year-old Muna’s fortunes change for the better. Until then, her bedroom was a dank windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. Over the years, she had grown used to being abused by the Songoli family—to being their slave.

Now that Scotland Yard has swarmed the Songoli house to investigate the disappearance of the son, Muna is given a real bedroom, real clothing, and treated, at least nominally, as a daughter. But her world remains confined. She is not allowed to go outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English. At least that’s what the Songolis believe. Before long it becomes clear that young Muna is far cleverer—and her plans more terrifying—than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine.


“When you read about sadists who have brutalized their housekeepers or au pairs, you try not to think about what life was like for those poor slaveys. But Minette Walters lets her imagination run free in The Cellar. An intimate and upsetting story about Ebuka and Yetunde Songoli, a rich immigrant couple from an unnamed West African nation who claimed 8-year-old Muna from an orphanage and took her to England . . . [Walters] writes with the subtle cruelty and pitiless insights of [Ruth Rendell’s] alter ego, Barbara Vine.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“A dark, disturbing tale told very, very well . . . A taut and harrowing exploration of man’s capacity to inflict pain and cruelty in the complete absence of a moral compass. There are no subplots or extraneous characters to distract from this powerful story . . . Walters tells Muna’s story in unsparing language . . . It is a remarkable achievement that starkly illustrates the horrors we are capable of inflicting upon one another.” —Terry Zobeck, Washington Independent Review of Books

“A compulsive (and gruesome) read. . . . The Cellar is a shocker. It’s one of those books that builds incrementally, page by page, getting worse and worse in the best possible ways before coming to a conclusion that defies classifications of ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ . . . There is no turning away from The Cellar once you start it, and that is chief among its many strengths . . . A powerful work . . . A multi-layered novel packed full to the brim of its pages with quiet horror and realism . . . If you are unfamiliar with Walters’ other work, you will want to acquaint yourself sooner rather than later.” —Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter

“Creepy . . . a domestic horror about punishment and retribution.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“This short work reads like a recipe for evil and may well induce a nightmare or two . . . This portrait of an immigrant family living in a white world is densely layered. The attention of investigators is insulting and condescending at times, and it’s easy to instinctively take the Songolis’ side, only to remember they’re monsters with a terrible secret. Walters plays with that tension to great effect; each time a Songoli learns something new about what Muna is actually capable of it’s a terrifying thrill . . . Sly pacing and a detached narrative voice give this horror story exceptional punch.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Those who enjoy their fairy tales fractured, in the style of Angela Carter and Roald Dahl, will revel in this decidedly dark and droll retelling of the story of a kick-ass Cinderella by veteran writer Walters.” —Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO, Library Journal

“A harrowing thriller . . . My blood ran cold, and I couldn’t put it down. Walters’ use of language is especially good . . . I highly recommend it.” —Will Lasley, Killer Nashville, “Killer Nashville Book of the Day”

“Haunting . . . Walters nails a perfect blend of psychological suspense and social commentary that resonates long after the book is over.” —Publishers Weekly

“Walters has established herself as Britain’s leading writer of thought-provoking and chilling psychological thrillers.” —Guardian (UK), on Disordered Minds


A Deadly Pleasures Best Novel of the Year