Publisher: Bantam Press (April 2010) UK
Minotaur Books (June 2010) USA
Pages: 425 (Paperback)
My Rating: 9.5/10
The story begins one windy, rainy November night when the old wall of the graveyard collapses. Not only does it disturb a grave where a little girl is buried but, when the police and Harry arrive, it is discovered that there are another two small bodies there which shouldn't be.......and Harry recognises the clothes on one of them. So, who are they and how did they get there?
We are then taken 9 weeks back in time and so begins a chilling and atmospheric build up to the events leading to the macabre discovery and the events in the village afterwards.
The three narrators are 10 year old Tom Fletcher who is convinced that a strange little girl is watching the family from the graveyard, Harry, who thinks he hears voices in the church and strange things start to happen around him, and the psychiatrist Evi who is treating Gillian, a very disturbed mother whose young daughter died in a house fire and is convinced she is still alive and wanders round the moor looking for her. The Fletcher family become so concerned about young Tom they send him to talk to Evi as well.
The old village and the quirky villagers are like a throwback to another time with annual old rituals like the 'Blood Harvest' where animals are slaughtered, the traditional 'Cutting of the Neck' and where 'bone men' are made with real bones and thrown onto the bonfire.
This story was so creepy and compelling that I wanted to keep reading just one more chapter, and S.J. Bolton is so good at drawing you in and leaving you wanting more. I think she could make a walk in the park seem scary.
Recommended for anyone who enjoys a creepy thriller. This was a well-written story with great characters like Harry the vicar who had a wonderful dry sense of humour.
I wish more books would feature a map and I referred to this one at the front many times throughout the story as it helped me to get my bearings around the village.
S.J. Bolton is appearing at Blackburn Central Library in Lancashire on the 12th May and details of how to obtain free tickets for her talk which is 'not for the squeamish' are here. I am looking forward to it!