Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade. But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement. Despite the financial strain of the move, he has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and he sees Cold Hill House as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, the perfect base for his web-design business and a terrific long-term investment. Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being separated from her friends.
Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house. A friend of Jade’s is the first to see the spectral woman, standing behind her as the girls talk on FaceTime. Then there are more sightings, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house. As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them . . .
There’s not really much you can say about Peter James that hasn’t already been said. A terrific author who never seems to put a foot wrong, time after time he publishes a novel that is both engaging and fascinating to read. This time around he dispenses of Roy Grace’s services, heaven knows why because I for one would like to see Grace tackle a ghost! A standalone, The House on Cold Hill will have you shivering from the outset until a bone shaking finale.
I don’t get the chance to read ghost stories all that often, I did as a kid and loved them, but when I had the opportunity to read this title I jumped at the chance, it wasn’t the only time I’d jump while reading! The House on Cold Hill, although set in modern times, has a distinctly old fashioned style to it. I couldn’t help but think, despite the inclusion of computers and mobile phones, that I had been transported back to the old days of no electricity, no running water and reading by candlelight – no idea why, it just had that feel about it for me.
The first few chapters serve to set the story, lay a solid foundation – despite the possibility of subsidence!! – and introduce the characters to the reader but once all this has been achieved there’s no holding back and the story moves along at a rapid pace. Ollie is without question the star of the show and he proves to be a great protagonist. Worried about making a huge financial mistake in moving lock, stock and barrel to the country he’s prepared to ignore the warning signs and the fact that the small problems that immediately start to surface are in fact just the tip of the iceberg.
You can’t help but feel empathy with the family and how they put up with the problems is beyond me! They really do endure a lot but their hardship serves to entertain the reader! I know it’s a cruel world isn’t it! As long as it’s not happening to us, suck it up!!
A chilling read, I loved the way the story unfolded and how the ghostly activities increased as it became clear the Harcourt family wouldn’t be giving up without a fight. Characters come and go, some a little more gruesome than others, but the story continues to progress and flow well. Haunting in parts, there were a couple of points in the book that really freaked me out, the author has a knack for this genre.
So there we have it, not going to spoil it for anyone and give away any clues but the ending is very well done and just about right but if ever there was a book that had an alternative ending chapter then this is one! Now there’s a thought! Has that ever been done?
Bravo Mr James
- Hardcover:320 pages
- Publisher:Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition (8 Oct. 2015)