Monday 26 December 2011

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley

Continuing with our Mid-winter posts....

A Proper Old-fashioned Ghost Story
review by Maryom

Newly orphaned Michael Vyner is invited to spend Christmas with his almost unknown guardian, Sir Stephen, at his remote East Anglian home, Hawton Mere. Sir Stephen turns out to be a reclusive invalid, spending most of his time in his private tower room attended by his sister, and instead of receiving a warm festive welcome Michael is left to amuse himself as best he can. In wandering the dark gloomy passageways of the moated house, he discovers a hidden priest hole, strange noises and apparitions, but Michael soon realises that the ghostly figure he sees isn't intent on harming him but is asking for his help....

A chilling ghost story of the classic "huddle round the fire while the wind howls outside" variety, with all the expected ingredients - the house, isolated by both location and weather; the mysterious guardian; a tragic death; a secret room - and not a vampire or werewolf in sight! Intended for older children/young teens but perfectly chilling for adults. Chris Priestley creates such a feeling of brooding evil and growing menace that even in the middle of summer, I could feel a chill spreading through my bones. (I actually decided to finish reading it in the light of day)

Something I would love to know the answer to, though - was Hawton Mere based on any specific building? As I read the description of a moated house with a priest-hole and tower and twisting staircase, I was sharply reminded of a National Trust property I've visited near King's Lynn, but on a hot Easter weekend with absolutely no sign of ghosts.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Genre - Thriller, Supernatural, Ghost Stories, 10-14,Teen

1 comment:

  1. I think Chris would have based his house on one he's seen previously - or perhaps a few! I finished this in the day, too. Doesn't seem like the sort of book you'd want to read at night!

    Under The Mountain