Haverscroft by Sally Harris – Book Review
Twitter is a wonderful place to find another book to read because that was how I found this lovely gem of a novel. I had read a review, connected with the author and found myself determined to give this one a read. Those of you who follow me know that I love me a good ghost story and boy was this a ghost story!
In finding this, the author informed me that other people who had read the book recommended to read it in broad daylight or with the lights on because it was just that scary. Naturally that meant that I would be sitting in the dark reading by the light of my kindle. Of course, that wasn’t enough because I had to also tack on listening to The Haunting of Hill House soundtrack because that show was scary AF and the soundtrack is AMAZING.
This review will have some light spoilers so please be warned before proceeding. I won’t give away big plot details but there are some parts that will have to be mentioned so that I can fully convey my feelings on this book.
Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realize, Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?
Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.Goodreads Description
The atmosphere of this book is thick. I will say first and foremost I didn’t find the book itself all that scary. Yes there were severely spooky, creepy moments in the book that were fantastic but overall I didn’t find myself all that scared. The music certainly added a level of intensity to it all but that was just how I felt about it.
That doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a well written ghost story, or that there weren’t wonderful scenes that were detailed so well that I could picture them as I read them. There is a scene in the ‘spare room’ involving the vanity that was particularly freaky and I loved it.
I grab the handle with both hands and shake it, try to turn it, but it’s solid. I let go and step backwards, tears sting the back of my eyes. I take a breath and scrunch my eyes tight, count in my head, one, two, three. It’s just a closed door, Kate.Sally Harris – Haverscroft
What I did love about this book however was the underlying narrative about mental illness and the stigma that goes along with that. Kate, a mother and lawyer has suffered a breakdown, her husband moves their family into this country home to try and help her heal. Her mother had a mental illness as well and it caused her death, from what I could gather, and Kate starts out having such fear and paranoia that she will ‘get ill’ again. She starts experiencing things in the house that also had another level of anxiety because her husband doesn’t believe her.
As the story progresses you see that Kate not only finds her strength again but she realizes that she isn’t crazy. There is something about the house and it isn’t in her head. She grows from this meek, overly emotional and worried character to someone that stands up to her husband putting him in his place. She fights for herself, for her children and that is the best development.
“It’s not great to find the fridge empty. What the hell do you do with your time, Kate?”
I’m aware of Jennifer hovering beside the car, tucking her gloves into her bag. I smile at Mark.
“You should have let me know you and Jennifer were coming, Mark. Had I known, I would have had food in and asked Mrs Cooper to back us some of her wonderful cakes.” I hold Mark’s gaze. “While I’m not working, I don’t spend money when we don’t need to, as you know.”Sally Harris – Haverscroft
I think the character that I liked the least was Mark, Kate’s husband, throughout the book I found him to be just a prick. He moved them to this creepy ass house but he’s never there. Leaving Kate, who he doesn’t really trust not to get ‘ill’ again alone to deal with it all. However you learn so much at the end and I was left not hating him anymore. He had reasons, they made sense and you can get behind them. His motivations are from such a wholesome good place that you can forgive him.
The ghost story part of this is interesting, it’s subtle at first and things ramp up as the book goes. I think that alone could be enough to make this movie/show potential at some point. The attic, the spare room, the pond, the knocking sound, the bird, the roof. So many things that happen and maybe they could be explained naturally but also they are spooky as hell.
A shriek, sharp and primeval, makes my heart thud harder. A fox most likely, from the direction of the graveyard. We laughed the first night here, spooked by similar screams. Now I don’t feel so brave.Sally Harris – Haverscroft
The ending was good and bad for me. I felt like there needed to be more, more time to see what happened to them. How Kate is doing after the ending? I felt like it could have gone for another chapter or two and I wouldn’t have been upset at all. That tells me though, that that’s just how good the book was that I didn’t want it to be over. The reveals, the twists as it were, were wonderful and so unexpected. They explained a lot more of everything that had happened and they came out of nowhere.
I think the only thing that made it difficult was that these were British characters, who had slang that frankly took me a bit to understand. It also got confusing at times and I had to re-read scenes because I didn’t understand what had happened. Those are personal opinions though and in no way mean that there was anything written poorly.
So what else can I say? READ THIS BOOK! If you are brave enough, read it in the dark to spooky music. You won’t regret it. It is so much more than a ghost story and it is worth buying!
Did you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to know what you all thought. Comment below!