Coal House by W S Barton

About this book..

When property developer Finn Harper impulsively decides to make an investment with his wife whilst away together in North Wales for their anniversary, it seems an opportunity almost too good to be true. But as the disturbing truth of the home’s abandonment unravels itself, Finn finds himself alone, and a martyr of the local community. He must confront some personal demons, forcing him to consider what, or even who, is real.

My review..

When I was contacted by the author asking if I’d like a copy of Coal House, I was rather intrigued and as I haven’t read a ghost story for a few years decided to accept whilst looking forward to a spooky and atmospheric read. And thankfully that was exactly what I got!

Finn and his wife Clara are in North Wales when they decide to bid on a property that comes up for auction that is priced, well, a little bit cheaper than expected! Now, you and I would be thinking straight away “Eh hello??? Creepy old house in the middle of nowhere?? Cheap?? Funny looks from the locals??” but property developer Clara is excited enough to make a bid-the only bid surprisingly….NOT-and the couple have a wonderful new life to plan away from the hustle and bustle of London city life. Finn moves in straight away but also straight away begins to hear noises that chill him to the bone. What is the history of the Coal House and what secrets are about to be revealed?

Although it is set in the fifties, this book could have taken place anytime in the twentieth century. There isn’t a sense of any particular period, just the house and sleepy village which can exist even now in our high tech world if they are isolated enough from the modern society. I had a picture in my head right from the start of the house and its surroundings and it felt very dark and atmospheric. This would make a fabulous drama on the small screen! I would be hiding behind a cushion most of the time though. What I’m trying to say is that reading the story didn’t scare me as much as it would have done if it was done visually.

This is an easy to read ghostly story that would be a perfect Halloween pick for a chilling storytelling session. I read it within one afternoon and would recommend that to keep the suspense going. I don’t read scary books in the dark anymore but that may also heighten the sense of malevolence for you!

Thanks again to the author for providing my review copy in return for my honest opinion.


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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

5 thoughts on “Coal House by W S Barton”

    1. Thanks so much for the review Jo!

      In reply to MarinaSofia, thank you for the comment. I was so conscious of this (and I hope it comes across that way in the story). As a lover of horror and spooky stories, my biggest problem is always that abandonment of logic and reason. I thought that making the couple property developers would be a strong enough reason in the first place to have interest in the house, and then their various issues might present an explanation for buying it.

      Then of course you have the suspension of disbelief which comes with going to a place you know or suspect to be haunted. Why would you? It’s a good question, so I tried to put a logical reason in there, to make it almost the natural thing for the characters to have done. That was my intention, and my hope as a consequence was that it would heighten the tension, whether or not I succeeded is open to interpretation! (I am guessing you haven’t read the book, but I just thought I would comment on that point!)

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      1. No, I haven’t read the book – but I am very willing to suspend the disbelief, as otherwise there would be no story. And property developers, as you say, are always with their eye on that great bargain. (And judging by the people who buy up total ruins in France, a little over-confident…)

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