Review of The Dead Of Winter by Chris Priestly

Michael Vyner recalls a terrible story, one that happened to him. One that would be unbelievable if it weren't true! Michael's parents are dead and he imagines that he will stay with the kindly lawyer, executor of his parents' will ...Until he is invited to spend Christmas with his guardian in a large and desolate country house. His arrival on the first night suggests something is not quite right when he sees a woman out in the frozen mists, standing alone in the marshes. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself as he is kept from his guardian and finds himself spending the Christmas holiday wandering the silent corridors of the house seeking distraction. But lonely doesn't mean alone, as Michael soon realises that the house and its grounds harbour many secrets, dead and alive, and Michael is set the task of unravelling some of the darkest secrets of all.

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As long as you don't expect any more than a simple Gothic ghost story from this book then you'll get exactly that. It wasn't brilliantly thought out but it was well written and pulls you straight into the story. It's a quick afternoon read, only took me about an hour to read it. There's no mention of a year or of Michael's age on this, which I found annoying. I'd prefer to know. The idea that Michael was a child so no-one believed him when he said he saw someone in the road (amongst other things) felt really overdone and was rather annoying too.
Parts of this book reminded me of Jane Eyre (big spooky house in the middle of nowhere and strange sounds coming from the walls?) and it certainly has the feel of it. The writing is very rich, Gothic and old fashioned with complimented this story perfectly. The cover screams cute however, with it's cartoon skull and shiny border. I love it, mostly for the shiny!


4/5

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