16 March 2011

The Dead of Winter

by Chris Priestley

Allen and Unwin. Young Adult, Horror. Paperback RRP $22.99

Guest Reviewer - Anastasia Gonis

Michael is left orphaned and desolate after his mother’s death, his father having died during the war saving the wealthy Sir Stephen Clarendon of Hawton Mere, who has now become Michael’s legal guardian. The boy reluctantly sets off to spend the Christmas holidays at the distant mansion and meet the man who lives instead of his father.

But Michael’s guardian is of no comfort to the grieving child. The inhuman treatment experienced in his youth at the hands of his father, has left him an emotionally damaged man living in a world of his own suffering.
Hawton Mere is a bleak and isolated place; a dark and foreboding house set alone in an endless moor. Michael already feels he has ‘walked into a fog of mystery and whispers’ when he awakes the day after his arrival, still preoccupied by the ghost of a mysterious woman seen by the road.

But something more threatening than the ghostly woman soon makes contact with the boy. It has a presence and a breath, but no body, and carries horror incorporated with it. The countless secrets that Hawton Mere and its inhabitants harbour magnify Michael’s fears. Even the actual building seems to pulse with a life of its own. Learning that he has inherited his father’s abilities to see and hear the dead makes things worse. Michael is determined to find answers to his questions and the reasons for the existence of the terrors housed within the mansion.

Priestley has created another dark, riveting read to follow the outstanding Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth. The story is fast-paced and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The book is suitable for mature teenage readers that prefer edgy prose accompanied by a fast heartbeat, and who are not afraid of the dark.

The Reading Stack reviewed Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth in May 2010.


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