Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Haunting ~ Alex Bell (earc) review [@stripesbooks @Alex_Bell86 @doYAreadme]

The Haunting (Red Eye)
Stripes Publishing
February 11, 2016
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/Amazon UK

Some curses grow stronger with time…

People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.

Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…

A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte.

I don't know why but I was expecting The Haunting to be a lot less creepy than it was. This is not a book to read right before you go to bed, not if you're looking for a good night's sleep.

While it feels weird to say I am happy Emmy's character was in a wheelchair, in a way I am. (Not only because it's something that should be represented more in fiction, either.) It not only provides an interesting switch up to how she approaches things (and Bailey!) but why she is in the wheelchair is integral to the story. That bit of history plays well with the Waterwitch, the past and the haunting.

The possible haunting slash spirit activity is scary and startling in all the right ways. There is a backstory to it all that is unearthed and developed nicely as the book progresses. Yet, I love that with Shell's character, especially, we're presented with the question of how much if really happening and how much might be perception, the power of suggestion or mental health troubles. We had some of this, as well, in Frozen Charlotte (though I'd forgotten that) . The blend of seemingly very real paranormal occurrences and the characters doubting themselves or each other gives an appreciated bit of mystery.

Alex Biting makes The Haunting incredibly atmospheric. You aren't just reading the scenes, you're in those scenes. You feel what the character is feeling, the fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty and you need to know what's around the corner - even as you fear finding out. For readers it definitely amps up the tension.

I loved how this story unfolded. The mix of the history of the inn, the ship, the current state of the Waterwitch, Jem and Shell's past and present, what happened to Emma, and how everything comes together, right now, in the inn. Alex Bell's writing isn't flowery or overly descriptive but oh how it can paint a picture. Often a disturbing, disgusting or frightening one. The Haunting is definitely a creepy read and I am really, really looking forward to what this author publishes next.

(Be warned though, if you're scared of birds . . .  Just be warned.)

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley

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