‘The Haunting of Hacket House’ by Astrid Addams – Review

*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

***

Clive was certain. Well as certain as he ever was about anything. He’d seen the evil with his own eyes ater all, but could he really trust them?

Here in the darkness as he peered by the light of the torch shaking in his hand, he couldn’t be sure, or so he told himself as he crept down yet another corridor in his childhood home. Even as a small boy he had hated it. He’d never been a man who believed in Gods, never felt the presence of the big G at his side, but now, in the hungry darkness, he simultaneously cursed whatever other forces may be out there for bringing him back here, for wedging Hacket House into his family history like a splinter into flesh. Simultaneously still he prayed to the same Gods, to get him and Clarissa away, anywhere would do as long as it was away from this hellish place. “When the shit hits the fan, that’s when having a God to pray to or curse the really satisfying,” his mother used to tell him between drags of her cigarette.

Clive stood still and strained his ears, listening for the sounds of creaking floorboards. His legacy! Eaten alive by woodworm and haunted by the never ending ticking of clocks which served to mask the sound of whatever evil might be coming.

Synopsis –

Offered a lucrative job at the mysterious Hacket House, Jane agrees to travel across country to live at the mansion. After all, a fresh start is just what she needs. Besides, the remote house is a long way from the past she is still running from.

Arriving at her new home, she finds a strange red house set in a wood of red, gnarled trees. The same trees used to build the house and the grandfather clocks that haunt every room and dark corridor. Jane quickly realises that there is something very wrong at Hacket House and the village of Bramley.

Why is there a graveyard in the garden of Hacket House? Who are the people in hoods who haunt the house at night? What are they doing with the old man in the bed? Why is somebody moving the grandfather clocks? Who is the strange woman no one will admit exists? What are the shadows that scoot across the walls like cockroaches? Who is Erazmus Nark whose grave nothing will touch?

As the sinister behaviour of the village escalates and her own past closes in around her, Jane learns that just because something is dead, doesn’t mean that it’s gone.

Thoughts –

The Haunting of Hacket House follows a classic gothic storyline with some strange twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. The story of a carer to the elderly hired to look after a man suffering from dementia and night terrors in a stately home where nothing seems to grow, this is a novella with a familiar tone that quickly turns sour. The reader is also treated to possible ghosts, possible intruders, hundreds of clocks ticking night and day, some of them even having a strangely humanoid appearance, and rumours in the town of satan worshippers.

There is a lot going on in this novella. I was compelled by the main character of Jane the carer, however, she didn’t seem to do a lot of caring. As the story progressed she did seem to be more of a boarder at the house than a member of the small staff there. The Haunting of Hacket House has a lot of mysteries, a lot of threads to follow that don’t exactly fit the way you would imagine. By the end of the book I was a little confused as to where everything fit together, what was paranormal and what wasn’t, what was real and what wasn’t.

But the story is carried well by the character of Jane. The other characters of the story, Clarissa the house keeper of sorts who keeps herself very much to herself, Mr. Whiteley the maintenance man with an ominous past, and Dora the cook who is almost sickly sweet, have their own parts to play in the shadows of the story and though much is revealed by the end, not all of their actions and motives are thoroughly explained.

The Haunting of Hacket House is an enjoyable gothic horror novella, there are certainly some new elements to it that you are able to explore, along with the familiar gothic style and tropes.

The Haunting of Hacket House is a chilling gothic mystery that might just make you rethink that new clock purchase…

About the Author –

Astrid Adams is a writer of gothic and horror fiction. You can find her on Twitter here.

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‘The Girl Who Found the Sun’ by Matthew S. Cox – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

****

 

It started with the insects. Whole species died off one after the next. No one cared. Maybe if they had, we’d remember what the sun looked like. – Ellis Wilder

Confining walls closed in around Raven, shrinking more and more the deeper she crawled into the wiring conduit. Already stale air thickened, leaving the taste of dust and melting plastic on her tongue. Other maintenance tunnels had enough room to let her walk hunched over, but this one barely allowed her up on all fours. The feeble crank light hanging from her shoulder tossed a wobbly nimbus of yellowish light around ancient concrete walls, long ago stained various shades of green and rust. 

(…)

Raven grumbled under her breath as she dragged herself forward. Every wake cycle, she hoped for a lull to shorten her work period so she could read or spend time with her daughter, Tinsley. However, the Arc had other plans. Of the seven people in the engineering group, she had the dubious distinction of being the smallest – hence whenever one of the power lines crapped out or something looked wonky with the voltage levels, Ben, her boss, sent her to do the repair. Shaw would probably do more damage to wires trying to squeeze himself down here. If not for Trenton, she’d also be the youngest, even if she only had him by one year. Neither of them had any real seniority despite her having done the job since age seventeen. 

 

Synopsis –

Part of a small group who found shelter in an underground refuge called ‘Arc’ when the Great Death threatened to end humanity, Raven Wilder has lived her life believing that the surface of the Earth is dangerous, toxic, filled with ravaging mutants, and that the only way to survive is to stay underground. But her six year old daughter is getting sick. Her job fixing anything that needs it tells her that their oxygen filters are failing, their hydroponic farms are leaking chemicals, and their running out of materials to repair them. But she is the daughter of Ellis Wilder, the man who went ‘topside’ and survived… until he never came back.

Can she find a way to save her daughter, and in turn, save what’s left of the human race?

 

Thoughts –

An enthralling post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel, The Girl Who Found the Sun is intelligent, charming, and at times chilling in it’s possible predictions of our future. Following the ‘wake’ cycles of sharp minded and stubborn Raven as she tries to keep oxygen flowing in the underground haven the Arc, the reader is taken on a harrowing journey of discovery that unearths secrets, confirms suspicions, and turns Raven and her daughter Tinsley’s lives inside out.

Cox wastes no time patronising the reader and the complicated engineering feats that Raven must pull off only serve to further deepen the layers of the story and the layers of the world that he has built for us. Weaving the story of a community struggling to survive underground amid very real fears of the outside world, Cox presents the dangers and possibilities of this novel with skill and characters that make you yearn for a happy ending.

Raven Wilder as a main character is fierce, loving, and unafraid to speak her mind. In agreeing to bear a child at the tender age of sixteen for the betterment of humanity she shows her commitment to continuing the human race, and in sticking by her child when so many others discarded theirs, she proves herself to be an unshakable mother. Tinsley as her trusty side kick lends a softer tone to the story and gives hope that, with the right teachers, the kids will be all right.

 

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The Girl Who Found the Sun is a story of speaking truth to power and the necessity of upsetting the status quo. With a fearless protagonist, and stark warnings against a similar future, Cox gives us a novel to find ourselves in.

 

 

About the Author –

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Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey. You can find out more about his work through his website matthewcoxbooks.com

 

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