< back to reviews

The House on Cold Hill: The Recommended

By JD Henderson

Buy on Amazon or Support your local bookstore

There are only maybe two books that Peter James has published in his career that aren’t sitting on my book shelf at the moment. His earlier novels were mostly stand alone stories and for the last few years he has been getting novel after novel in his Roy Grace detective series on the shelves much to the delight of myself and the gazillion other people that eagerly await each new instalment.

I’m a bit of a fan and there’s a strong reason for this as I put his books down to the fact that I re-found my love for reading. The whole story of how that came about and my review on his last Roy Grace book can be found on The Recommended also so check it out when you’re done here if you fancy.

‘The House On Cold Hill’ is his first book away from the RG series in a good while and having loved some of his other books like ‘Perfect People, Host, Sweetheart and Prophecy,’ I was eager to get my hands on a copy of his latest offering to see what it was like.

Since I opened it and began reading, I’ve hardly been able to put it down. It was two days ago when I started and I’ll be finished it by tomorrow. This seems to be the case with me whenever I pick up a book by Peter James and judging by some of the posts on his social media pages by fellow readers, I’m not the only one.

Why is simply explained in two words. He’s great!

‘The House On Cold Hill’ is a ghost story, a subject with James has a keen interest in, having lived in a couple of haunted houses himself. He’s a big believer in all things spooky and, as is the norm for him when writing, his research is second to none.

The story opens with that trademark gripping first chapter that James has mastered, and from there you’re sucked in and going from page to page, chapter to chapters as fast you can. Well at least that’s what’s happening to me.

And so the story goes…

Ollie Harcourt, his wife Caro and their twelve year old daughter Jade are long term townies, who have decided to make the move from the city life of Brighton and Hove, to the more quiet and peaceful life of the Sussex countryside.

When the couple first saw the mansion that is the house on Cold Hill, they thought it was the perfect place to buy as a fixer-upper, something they’ve done with houses before. When the move is complete and the family is in, it’s only then that Ollie and Caro realise the size of the project they have taken on board. An old house has old wires, old plumbing and old walls but that’s not all that Cold Hill House has.

As time goes on, things get creepier and creepier. Ollie sees spheres of light in a part of the house where sunlight couldn’t possibly have caused them. Caro’s mother sees a shadow crossing the upstairs landing on the day of the big move. Jade’s friend, while chatting to her on facetime sees a mysterious old lady standing behind her as they talk but when Jade turns around there’s no one in the room with her.

It’s not long before the sightings turn more sinister and begin to take their toll on the Harcourts. Having sunk all their money into the property, the option of simply getting up and leaving isn’t there for them. They find themselves trapped in the dark history of Cold Hill House with no way of escape.

I’ll be honest with you. I’m not great with the idea of ghosts and stuff like that. It’s one of those things that creeps the hell outta me and I find when reading this book at night in bed, the slightest sound in the house has the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. This is down to the atmosphere that Peter James has created in this book. He uses everyday things that we don’t think twice about normally to creep the reader out. From pet cats hissing at nothing in an empty room, to taps gushing water all over the house at the same time in the middle of the night and even technology like our smartphone apps showing things on one side of a call but not the other, you might find yourself reading this one with all the lights in the house turned on.

That’s not what I’ve done though. No really, it’s not. Well, maybe a few.

The House On Cold Hill is out now, so if you’re into reading yourself scared, then this is a great one to get your hands on. If you want to give out to him after because you can’t stand being in the house on your own anymore after reading it, then he’s pretty good at responding to people on facebook and the like. Sorry Peter!