Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for a fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing story.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do ghost stories. I once lived in a house I’m pretty sure had some crazy ghostly stuff happening in the back bedroom and I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. But, when the lovely Karen in Orenda asked me what genre of book I was interested in I very stupidly said “Oh anything really … throw them all at me!”
Move forward a few weeks and here we are!
There’s something about this book – I think it is the very real sense of foreboding from the get-go that is absolutely gripping and powerful. I knew there was something terrifying going on and I knew I would be well into this book before finding out exactly what it was.
“A former psychiatric home with a disturbing history” already raises a million questions but one of the things I really did like about this book is the way it was all taken to the next level by the author. The old buildings in the book are all in varying stages of decay and it’s not very hard to imagine them. We’ve all seen buildings like them. The characters are intriguing and I especially love the dynamics of Jack and Ali’s relationship.
I mean, who in their reasonable mind would want to be part of a commune that is in a building with such a history?
Thanks to the journal entries of one of the doctors who worked in the home we are privy to some of the treatment that that patients would have received that were then considering ordinary, daily treatments for mental health issues. It paints a very real picture of the stories the walls could tell and I found it terrifying.
There are shadows and secrets throughout the book and there are some highly emotive scenes which raise even more questions about the Gardiners and their life. I found Ali that I wanted to know ALL about Ali very quickly.
To my mind it is original, it is fast paced and it’s eerie, very eerie! SJI Holliday manages to omit the gratuitous fluff – the characters we typically come to expect in stories and movies and instead this book builds its story with real tension.
Just read it with the lights on.
Jennie Scanlan, Mother of Dragons (well actually, 1 teen, 1 tween and a Ronaldo wannabe), rugby coach and eternal dreamer. Jennie loves nothing more than being lost down the rabbit hole of her books and her Kindle. With a pinch of empowerment, a teaspoon of solitude and the odd G&T she is not shy of an opinion or a or letting you know what passions stir her body and mind.
If you like to share your thoughts of this book with Jennie you can find her at @MrsScanlan on Twitter