Monday, July 11, 2011

The Secret of Crickley Hall-James Herbert

The Secret of Crickley Hall
James Herbert
Tor, Jul 19 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765328885

One year ago five years old Cameron Caleigh vanished. His distraught parents American Gabe and Englishwoman Eve were frantic but he never was found. Desperately in need of a change Gabe and Eve accompanied by their daughters twelve year old Loren and five year old Calley move from London to Hollow Bay, five hours on the Motorway. Their new home Crickley Hall on Devil’s Cleave looks grim and ugly.

The family is unaware that Chester the dog howls at apparitions banging the walls and shaking the cupboards to rattle the first breathers in a decade to occupy Crickley Hall. The Caleigh clan begins to learn the history of the Hall especially what happened in World War II when London orphans lived there under the care of abusive Augustus Cribben until a flood apparently killed all the residents. As a grieving Eve turns to psychic Lilli to learn what happened to her son, Loren feels weak anytime she is indoors and Calley knows why Chester is howling; Gabe remains steadfast American unable to see what is happening to his family but may be too late when he finally accepts the truth.

With a nod to the movie Poltergeist, The Secret of Crickley Hall is an entertaining haunted house thriller. The story line is fast-paced containing all the usual bumps in the night (and day). The WWII subplot brings poignancy while connecting the past with the present. The cast in the 1940s and today are developed enough to make the ghost story work although Gabe is the stereotype of an American seen through English eyes. Readers will enjoy learning The Secret of Crickley Hall.

Harriet Klausner

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