UK Publishing Date: 11 Feb 2016. 352 pages.
I’ve just closed the cover on my kindle and I’m glad that I’m in the middle of a train full of people. It’s warm and noisy and having just finished The Haunting it is exactly what is needed. I really enjoyed Alex Bell’s Frozen Charlotte when I read it last year so I had high expectations from this one.
The Haunting is set in the town of Looe in Cornwall. A family owned guest house called The Waterwitch stands empty after too many bad trip-advisor type reviews complaining about the ghosts. Emma and her friend Jem had an accident in the cellar when Emma was ten and this left her with a broken back and reliant on a wheelchair and an assistance dog. Now aged seventeen Emma is going back to Cornwall for the first time since the accident. Her grandmother is dying and she wants to see her.
Steeped in history and folklore this book sits perfectly in a Cornish backdrop. A combination of witchcraft and shipwrecks help to weave the threads throughout this darkly gothic Young Adult horror story.
While it is refreshing to have a disabled heroine in the book Emma is kind of annoying. It often feels like she is seventeen with a mental age of twelve. She just feels very immature. This may well be deliberate, since her disability she may have been cosseted to an extent. She didn’t really feel like the kind of girl who would just jump in her car, having just passed her test, and drive for four hours to Cornwall.
That said I think that this is a book that will really appeal to teenagers. The imagery is dark and all enveloping. I found the bird scenes particularly claustrophobic and Shell, as a result, is a very intriguing character. Without giving too much away this take on a centuries old witches curse will have you switching on every light in the room. Don’t read it before bedtime!
Supplied by Net Galley and Stripes Publishing in exchange for an honest review.