Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements

review by Maryom

Scarcross Hall sits high on the moors, bleak and isolated, but for Mercy Booth this place is home; she's as hefted to the spot as the sheep she and her elderly father raise on the moorland.

Old rumours of horrific events, and the possibility of a curse on the place, have never troubled her before, but of late a creeping presence is unsettling her. Noises are heard at night in unused rooms, small items are going missing, and, at times, Mercy has sensed a shadowy figure watching her.

Taking on a new man to help with lambing does nothing to settle her mind, and, as the year turns, the odd incidents become more frequent and far more disturbing in nature. Something evil really does seem to be stalking the inhabitants of Scarcross Hall, perhaps seeking some form of retribution ...

Set in the years after the Civil War, the Coffin Path is a dark, atmospheric tale - not quite a ghost story, in my opinion, but a spine-tingler nonetheless. Mercy is an independent self-reliant woman, taking part in the day to day practicalities of running the farm, and used to the bleakness of her surroundings and the hardships encountered there - so not one to be disturbed by a few odd night-time noises. 

The spooky disturbing atmosphere is quickly established, with Mercy's feeling of someone constantly watching, and her equivocal attitude towards the new man, Ellis, whose arrival coincides with an increase in strange occurrences around the hall, but somehow, somewhere around the halfway mark, the tale lost its grip on me, as if the tension and creepiness had peaked too early. Fortunately, the ending picks up again, with revelations about the Booth family's past coming thick and fast, and over turning much of what Mercy herself had been brought up believing.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Headline Review
Genre - adult historical supernatural fiction, 

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