Saturday, February 8, 2020

Review: The Secret of Cold Hill

The Secret of Cold Hill (House on Cold Hill, Book #2)
by Peter James
Release Date: October 3rd 2019
2019 Macmillan
Hardcover Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-1509816248
ASIN: B07N686496
Genre: Fiction / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars


Cold Hill House has been demolished to make way for a new housing estate. Luxury-living at its best with high specification gadgets all thrown in – part-exchange available for the right buyers.

The first two families move in, and as soon as they do, the unearthly residents of Cold Hill begin to make themselves known.

Nobody who moves into Cold Hill reaches their fortieth birthday, and the old couple that have just arrived . . . let’s just say their days are numbered.

My Thoughts
The Secret of Cold Hill is the second book in this series, and while you don't necesssarily have to have read the first book to enjoy this one, it does give you some helpful background information to some of the events mentioned in this one.  

The main characters in this book, Jason and Emily Danes and Maurice and Claudette Penze-Weedell, are polar opposites to each other. Jason is an up-and-coming artist, known for superb animal paintings and drawings and his wife, Emily, is a chef, so they were looking for a bigger house with a large kitchen and a studio for Jason.  I enjoyed both of these characters as they were intelligent and thought about things and the possible reasons they came up with for the events that occurred were plausible and well thought out.  The Penze-Weedells were simply awful as Claudette spent her time comparing her house and everything in it to the Danes, constantly complaining that theirs just didn't live to the other, wondering why they didn't get something bigger and more expensive, despite the fact that Maurice had lost his job a few months prior.  And while Maurice is definitely more likeable, he often gives in to his wife and her poor behaviour. I suspect the author had quite a good time creating these characters and I had a lot of fun reading about them. 

Both couples have moved into houses that were built on the site of an old house known for its paranormal activity as well as its stream of bad luck.  Neither Emily nor Jason knew anything about the history and to say they were a bit shocked at learning some of the history of the area once they'd moved in is an understatement.  The plot moves rather quickly here as events escalate and soon, both couples start to question what they are actually witnessing.  Unfortunately, this is where the author kind of lost me a bit for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I am not a fan of giving away too much information to a reader as if they can't figure out things are weird on their own.  During one scene in particular, one character talks way too much and gives away too many context clues in the book where I knew exactly what was going to happen.  It really took the element of surprise out of it for me and I was disappointed.  Although I didn't know exactly how it was going to happen, because of this, the ending was sort of destroyed and I was deciding at that point whether to continue reading.  I am glad I did as I enjoyed what happened, but I was not shocked or surprised as that element was taken away from me.  I don't know why authors need to do that as readers can read between the lines and figure out things for themselves.  The other thing that kind of got in the way was Jason.  He had this tendency to go over and over everything in his mind, and it got really repetitive after a while. 

I have read many books by this author (the Roy Grace books are a favourite of mine), and I have always liked this author's writing style. He often uses multiple POVs and does in this book as well. The chapters are short and the events move rather quickly from one to the other.  All of the events tie in rather well together and I like how they were linked to events in the previous book as well, although you don't really have to have knowledge of them to understand this one. 

The Secret of Cold Hill was a fun book and I liked the characters and the setting very much.  I wish it was a bit scarier than it was, and I really wish the author would just let us readers figure things out without having to insert well-meaning conversations they think increase tension and suspense but actually can ruin endings.  The build-up was there, and then it just deflated.  It is a bit repetitive in comparison to the first book, so I am hoping the next book in the series will have a fresher take on the ghosts and the events will be a bit scarier.