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The Secret Of Crickley Hall by James Herbert

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Buy The Secret Of Crickley Hall in the USA - or Buy The Secret Of Crickley Hall in the UK

author pic

Pub: MacMillan. 600 page hardback. Price: 17.99 (UK), $36.95 (CAN). ISBN: 1-4050-0520-3.

check out website: www.panmacmillan.com

There are very few writers of horror who presently have their work regularly published by the major publishing houses. After the collapse of the horror market, the only survivors were those who where selling in vast numbers. In this very select company is James Herbert. As the book has already been in the best-seller charts for weeks (14 in 'The Sunday Times' list) a review of any kind will have little effect on the success of the book. That is already assured. Yet the sheer popularity of a writer like Herbert may well cause some readers to dismiss his books. Any author or publisher is keen to find new readers to enjoy what they produce. It can have a spin-off effect on the sales of similar books or authors from the same stable.



'The Secret Of Crickley Hall' is in many ways an old-fashioned haunted house story. Not far from the coast in the West Country of England, Crickley Hall is an ugly, isolated building. Even the road does not go up to the front door and it can only be reached by a rickety bridge across a fast-flowing stream.

Gabe, an American engineer, brings his English wife, Eve, and two daughters to stay here while he is working on a wave power project just off the coast. Another reason why Gabe wants to bring his family to this isolated spot is that it is almost a year since their young son disappeared. He hopes that by taking them away from the place of tragedy it will make the anniversary easier to bear.

It is obvious that there is something wrong with the house when the dog refuses to enter it. Eve, too, takes against the house, partly because with no electricity it is a bit creepy. Very soon they discover that during the second World War the place was used as a school for evacuee children and that during severe winter storms they all drowned or were washed away in the flood water from the stream. This anniversary is also approaching. The weather is also conspiring as it hasn't stopped raining for days.

As the story of what happened all those years ago unfolds, so the manifestations within the house increase. There are unexplained noises, mysterious puddles and a menacing looming shape. There are also happier manifestations of children dancing in the hall. At the same time, the weather continues to deteriorate, recreating the conditions of the original tragedy.

While there are all the hallmarks of the traditional haunted house novel, 'Crickley Hall' does have a few twists unique to it. The atmosphere is built up well and the plot is internally consistent. If the human characters do not always have as much depth as might be desired, ultimately it doesn't matter. The house is the important character.

This is fast-paced, page-turni

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