#HAVERSCROFT by S A Harris | Book Review | A ghostly book for Halloween

Published by Salt
Available in ebook and paperback (15 May 2019)
196 pages
Source: Copy received for review from publisher

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realise, Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?

Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.

MY THOUGHTS

My thanks to Emma of Salt who had previously sent this debut to me for review, I hadn’t had the chance to get to it before, but with Halloween approaching, it seemed the perfect time to fit it in the reading list.

When Kate, husband Mark and their young children, twins Sophie and Tom move from London to East Anglia it was meant to be a new beginning.  Kate had been ill, their marriage had been put under strain and moving to Haverscroft was intended to allow more family time.  However things didn’t quite work out as Kate had envisaged. With Mark still working in London as a barrister, rather than looking for local work as he had promised, Kate was left on her own during the week with the children in a dilapidated house with hardly any mobile signal and dodgy electrics.   You can see where this is going can’t you!

From the very first day, there was something unsettling about the house, especially upstairs.  Doors banging shut and then refusing to open when the handles were turned.   Strange knocking noises and unusual smells, lights going out. 

The story is told from Kate’s perspective however it was clear that Kate couldn’t always be considered a reliable narrator.  Her previous breakdown had taken its toll and initially it was unclear whether everything that she  was experiencing was really happening or, having stopped her medication, was she having a relapse?    

The more Kate delved into the history of the house and its previous occupants, the more intense the story became.  With too many people keeping secrets of the house’s dark and destructive past and with no let-up of the unusual noises and happenings, Kate’s isolation from her husband increased and Kate feared for the safety of her and the children.

Haverscroft is a chilling and unsettling read and perfectly paced to keep that feeling of unease throughout. The conflict between husband and wife pulled me firmly on Kate’s side, especially when Mark was so dismissive of her concerns.  Even so, I have to admit, there were times when I found Kate quite frustrating; for an ex lawyer she seemed to make some rather unwise decisions at times, and as for her husband Mark, sympathetic he was not.  Set over a timescale of a month, the whole story is packed with atmospheric description – whether its the house and grounds or the nearby graveyard where the previous occupants of the house are buried or the village where everyone knows your business.

This is a relatively short read and took me just a day to read, I was so completely engrossed and keen to know how it ended.  If you want a really convincing, authentic ghostly story for a Halloween read, this is definitely recommended.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S.A.Harris is an award-winning author and family law solicitor born in Suffolk and now living and working in Norwich, Norfolk.

She won the Retreat West Crime Writer Competition in 2017. She was shortlisted for The Fresher Prize First 500 Words of a Novel Competition in 2018 and published in their anthology, Monsters, in November 2018.

Her debut novel, Haverscroft, was published on the 15th May 2019 and Longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize 2019.

She is a member of the Society of Authors.

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