The girls heard it first, the knocking inside the walls…..
1976. Loo and her sister Bee live in a rundown cottage in the middle of nowhere, with their artistic parents and wild siblings. Their mother, Cathy, had hoped to escape to a simpler life; instead the family find themselves isolated and shunned by their neighbours. At the height of the stifling summer, unexplained noises and occurrences in the house begin to disturb the family, until they intrude on every waking moment ….
Loo, now Lucy is called back to her childhood home. A group of strangers are looking to discover the truth about the house and the people who lived there. But is Lucy ready to confront what really happened all those years ago?
Having seen some positive reviews about this book I was pleased to be given an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. To be honest this isn’t the type of genre I would normally choose so it was a little out of my comfort zone.
I am open minded about the paranormal, hauntings and poltergeists so I went into this story with an open mind. It is a very atmospheric book, with the knockings in the house, marbles falling out of thin air reminding me of when I used to watch the television show Most Haunted which I was fascinated by.
At times it felt claustrophobic, with lots of chilling scenes and the dread you always feel when watching a horror movie. The book is well written, with the dual narrative from ‘now’ and ‘then’.
The family Bee, Loo, Dan, Florian and baby Anto live with their mum Cathy and dad Joe at Iron Sike Farm for one summer. But during that summer strange things happen, things moving, disappearing, knocking and tapping all unexplained, at one stage Cathy calls out the local policeman.
Issy is a photographer for the local paper, she thinks this could be the story that will help her escape the boring village affairs she has had to cover. She gets caught up in a supernatural investigation which is headed up by Professor Michael Warren and his assistant Simon.
There is tension in both timelines as strange happenings get stronger and the investigation hopes to find answers through photography and recordings as well as interviews and seances held by medium Olivia Farrell. In the later part of the book Cathy is in a care home, but she becomes agitated and escapes somehow into the garden where she has a fall and this is all because of ‘the barefoot girl’.
The relationship between Bee and Loo is not healthy and the families hippy lifestyle makes them unwelcome in the area. Joe being away leaves Cathy to raise her five children on her own with very little money and virtually no support.
At times the story is very slow paced, the strange happenings are puzzling and at times unsettling, without much explanation. Until near the end where Lucy returns to the farm to try and help replicate the findings of the original investigation.
I am not sure whether I really enjoyed this book to the extent that other people may, as it’s out of my comfort zone, and was sort of left open ended, it’s difficult. There were a lot of characters involved and at times I got a little confused as to who was who, and with the timelines. It’s ok and it is definitely well written with some good narrative. I just don’t think it’s my sort of thing. It didn’t leave me going over it in my mind or feeling I had just read this great book. But obviously that is just my opinion and as I say others who love this genre may feel completely different about it. I think I would rate this as a three star out of five.
I would like to thank netgalley and Zaffre publishers for an ARC of this book. It is available to purchase as from the 5th September 2019 as a hardcover book, ebook or audio book.
Amanda Mason was born and brought up in Whitby, North Yorkshire. She studied Theatre at Darlington College of Arts, where she began writing by devising and directing plays. After a few years of earning a very irregular living in lots of odd jobs, including performing in a comedy street magic act, she became a teacher and has worked in the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany. She now lives in York and has given up teaching for writing. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. The Wayward Girls, her debut novel, was long listed for the Deborah Rogers prize.