Author: John Harwood
First Published: 2004
Page Count: 369
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 2/5 Stars
The ending might be considered slightly creepy, but the rest of the story is a messy attempt at a ghost story.
*Interesting Short Stories
*Abrupt Ending *Distracting/ jumbled Plot *Confusing Writing Style
“I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother’s bedroom.” Gerard has a paranoid, controlling mother who refuses to reveal anything about her life before Gerard was born. She also keeps mysterious photographs and short stories hidden around her bedroom that Gerard likes to secretly read. However, when his mother dies Gerard sees it as an opportunity to learn more about her past in England and also to meet his lifelong pen friend, Alice, who he has never met and lives in England as well. Once in England though, Gerard begins to wonder about the existence of his pen friend and what ghostly past hides in his mother’s childhood home.
What a bore of a book. For such a haunting cover and intriguing plot description on the back of the book, I really didn’t expect to read what I got. I will admit that the ending was a bit creepy, and the mini stories that Gerard finds that the reader gets to read as well are very interesting. However, they never go above one goose bump on the scare scale. They’re not particularly thrilling either, just interesting to think about, I suppose.
Now, on to the negatives. The writing was very confusing and I often had to reread certain pages just to figure out if the main character was in a dream or had fallen unconscious. At one point, I really believed I was missing the next page in the book the way the story poorly cut to the next scene. And even though I enjoyed the short stories Gerard finds, they really distract from the main story. One of the short stories does pertain to the plot but the others are completely pointless. Then there is my biggest issue with the book which was the ending. We reach the precipice of the cliff of the climax and literally just fall off that cliff. There is no smooth transition from climax, to resolution, to conclusion. It’s like the author only wanted to write the climax and then added “the end” because he didn’t feel like writing anymore.
Don’t read this book. There are so many better books in the horror and thriller genres that you could choose from. I could have seen past the sloppy writing and ending if the story had actually scared me, but when a book in the horror genre can’t deliver on that point, then you might as well cast it aside as a disappointment.