Book #16

The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert

The Caleighs have had a terrible year. They need time and space, while they await the news they dread. Gabe has brought his wife, Eve, and daughters, Loren and Cally, down to Devon, to the peaceful seaside village of Hollow Bay. He can work, and Eve and the kids can have some peace and quiet and perhaps they can try, as a family, to come to terms with what's happened to them.
Crickley Hall is an unusually large house on the outskirts of the village at the bottom of Devil's Cleave, a massive tree-lined gorge - the stuff of local legend. A river flows past the front garden. It's perfect for them, if it is a bit gloomy. And Chester, their dog, seems really spooked at being away from home. And old houses do make sounds. And it's constantly cold. And even though they shut the cellar door every night, it's always open again in morning.

A classic haunted house tale featuring a forbidding house with a traumatic backstory, a modern family moving into said forbidding house with their own emotional baggage, a psychic, a groundskeeper who serves as a plot device, and probably my most hated horror trope - ghost children.

And it’s all fine. It’s all to be expected. There are various jump scares and twists along the way, some really good character building, and some pretty predictable plot movement. In short, it was exactly what I expected it to be.

What irked me most was that it could easily have been over 100 pages shorter. Herbert seems to have a penchant for detail. For example, the reasons for the family moving to Crickley Hall (the dad’s job) were explained to the point where we were hearing of every single detail of the underwater energy solution he was working on. So much of this was given that I began to think it had some relevance to the plot - it didn’t. Herbert chose to reveal minute and irrelevant details of many other things which are far too dull to list here.

Generally, it was a pretty standard horror tale, with nothing I felt stuck out too plainly. I was enjoying myself until around halfway through when it became repetitive and sluggish. I did love the dog, though.