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The House on Cold Hill: Reading Room with a View

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The House on Cold Hill is a chilling and suspenseful ghost story from the multi-million copy bestselling author of Dead Simple, Peter James.

Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade. But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement. Despite the financial strain of the move, he has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and he sees Cold Hill House as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, the perfect base for his web-design business and a terrific long-term investment. Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being separated from her friends.

Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house. A friend of Jade’s is the first to see the spectral woman, standing behind her as the girls talk on FaceTime. Then there are more sightings, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house. As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them . . .

I have to say, this was an absolutely brilliant read. Although I am a big Peter James fan, and he is possibly one of the most charming authors I have had the good fortune to meet, I tend to stick with the Roy Grace novels so I wasn’t too sure what to expect with this one. There was no disappointment – it is a fantastic, good old fashioned ghost story, one that gives you shivers down your spine.

I loved The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and this novel has a very similar feel – the sense of isolation, confusion, and the idea that it could really be happening, it could be imagined, who knows? It’s a formula that works really well, and when the characters are as likeable as Ollie and Caro it’s easy to fall into reading and be completely unable to put it down.

The eerie goings on gave me goosebumps, and that slightly panicky feeling that you get on the way back from the bathroom in the dead of night – a deliciously spooky read with a cracking ending, I absolutely loved it. Peter James is an absolute master of his craft.