Via Netgalley – Published by Headline Review
Publication date – February 2018
Set on the wilds of the desolate moors, we follow our protagonist Mercy Booth and her father Bartram Booth who live in isolated Scarcross Hall at the top of the so called coffin path. They make their living from their sheep and land and employ various villagers to help to them.
The story opens with Mercy feeling very unsettled as she feels that she is being watched and followed. From here on in the strange events get even stranger and less easy to explain away. Bumps, noises, dragging sounds in the empty bed chamber above her bedroom. Items going missing, sheep being inexplicably slaughtered out on the bleak desolate moors.
There are stories down in the village that the moors and particularly Scarcross Hall are cursed. A previous family who lived at the hall met an untimely end, and from hereon in the villagers have had there suspicions about what happened to them and why.
Mercy and Bartram take on a man called Ellis Ferreby to help them tend the land and the sheep. A dark, brooding, quiet man who has secrets of his own. (who doesn’t love a dark, brooding stranger? Am I right?)
Things deteriorate along with Bartram’s health and Mercy begins to feel even more isolated up on the moors. Their livelihood is threatened and ultimately their lives are threatened too.
Who or what can be behind these strange events?
The relationship between Mercy and Ellis is an intense one, mistrusting yet powerful and it was interesting to see it develop. Katherine Clements has a very descriptive way of writing, her prose was at times beautiful but in the main very atmospheric. You can almost feel the cold mist drawing in around you, and feel the damp of the old hall penetrating your bones. I read this at night to ramp up the atmosphere and the spine-tingles, (glutton for punishnment I know!) and I think this is a great autumn/winter read.
If you’re a fan of the typical gothic ghost story, (think Susan HIll and Wilkie Collins), then you’ll more than likely be drawn in by this story.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and would certainly recommend it. A solid 4 star read for me.