Book Reviews

The Coffin Path: 'The perfect ghost story' by Katherine Clements

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List Price: £18.99


Hardcover: 384 Pages.

Published: 08 February 2018 by Headline Review

ISBN: 1472204271

EAN: 9781472204271

Maybe you've heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there's something up here, something evil.

Mercy Booth isn't afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father's study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.

When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can't see it yet.


2.0 Stars2.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Didn't Work For Me

As a lover of both ghost stories and historical novels I was very much looking forward to this book.

This book is set in a 17th century village where superstitions abound despite the puritan church. Scarcross Hall sits on top of the moor casually employing both locals & transient workers for the lambing and harvesting periods. As her father is faltering through age the running of the farm falls to Mercy, a woman who is happier in men's clothing and amongst the livestock than with the typical womanly pursuits of the time. There have always been rumours about the Hall but strange happenings start to occur.

I love a good ghost story. I enjoy the suspense that builds throughout the book to a point that a door banging elsewhere in the house will make me jump. Unfortunately I felt that this ghost story really lacked suspense. Yes, there are lots of strange happenings - lambs found mutilated, handprints on the walls, missing items and so on. However, these just don't build up the atmosphere throughout the book. The actions were there but the suspense was lacking. I think much of the reason is down to the historical content.

In order to have a good book you need to have a good background in which to set the story. An excellent example of historical background can be seen in the works of Karen Maitland. In her books you can almost smell the early centuries in which they are set. Unfortunately the setting for this book was quite poor. In fact I did think throughout the book that this could have been set anywhere from the 14th century through to the Victorian age. I know that rural life didn't change overly much during this period but that is why the author needed to make this particular historical background stand out. The local church & pastor plan a significant part in this story but I never felt the stricture of the puritan church upon the lives of the pastor or people.

There are some good characters in this book - Mercy the daughter of the farm is a strong woman who tries to lead a man's life. I found it surprising in this period of history that no one in the village minded her dressing as a man & doing the man's work. Agnes, her old retainer, was also written quite well. Elias, a transient worker who plays a major part in this book, seemed as if he was a well written character until he had a massive personality change in the closing chapters. There had been no inkling of the personality change throughout the story so it came as a a big shock and really didn't work for me.

There are far too many loose ends at the closing of this book. We never get answers for many of the events which left me wondering why I had bothered. What had caused the lambs deaths? or the handprints? We find out what causes the dragging noises (actually quite obvious) but no explanation as to why.

All in all this was not a book I enjoyed. Although the characters weren't too bad, the historical background was poor, the suspense lacking and ending full of loose ends and holes. I won't be in any hurry to read another book by this author.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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