I mentioned in my last review how lucky I am to get the chance to review some indie films, feature films and short films for free. I’ve also had some offers to review books, now I’m a slow reader so it takes me a while but here’s my first ever book review. Once again go easy on me, I’m sure they’ll improve the more I do! This one is Sker House by C.M. Saunders who you can find on Twitter @
Sker House is a haunted house ghost story but it’s much of it is taken from local Welsh folklore and legends. In fact it’s a must to read the final chapter which makes you realise just what in the story is taken from some debatable historic truths and what is made up for the purpose of the story.
The tale beings with two journalism students Dale and Lucy who venture to Sker House to write an article for their student magazine about a supposed haunting there. Saunders achieves something great with these two characters, both are very likable and more importantly they’re realistic. Too many stories these days would feel the need to romanticize this couple but as we read both of the characters thoughts on each other it really is the kind of things that would have ran through my mind at that age.
The two “heroes” of the tale meet Machen the landlord of Sker House that has turned the place into a seaside inn. Upon arriving they both realise that he is hiding something with his shifty behaviour he clearly knows a lot more about the hauntings than he is letting on.
As well as Machen there’s old Rolly who for some reason has taken up permanent residence at Sker House he drinks alone and constantly reads the newspaper. At first he seems like a mad old man but as his story unfolds it really builds his character well. He too is also not forthright about what he knows of Sker House.
Then there’s the last two characters we meet Ruth and Izzy, a mother and daughter team who tend the bar, cook and clean Sker House. Both appear very jumpy and as soon as night falls they seem extremely keen to get the hell away from the house. Although not main character these two do appear quite a lot and guess what? They are also hiding what they know.
As the story progresses through sheer need and Dale’s journalistic instincts all the characters slowly reveal what they know and we find out a lot more about the hauntings and the history of the house. For me the character development is brilliantly done, at first a few of the main characters appear as if they’ll be one dimensional but after only a few chapters every character grows, all end up with well thought out back stories and most importantly a reason to be in the story.
As we are introduced to one creepy happening after another the story really takes shape leading to quite a tense last few chapters. It’s here we see the group encounter some seriously strange stuff as they look to end the hauntings of Sker House. The ending of the book was great as well, a little bit predictable maybe but not a way that ruins the story at all.
In my film reviews I like to talk about the negatives of the films, it’s similar with books as I did find a couple of negative things but nothing major. I found a couple of things that happened were predictable and one element in particular of a secret garden I found unneeded for the scope of the story as a whole. Saying that none of this was enough to put me off the story and I highly recommend that you give this one a look, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this old fashioned ghost story which has been given a modern spin.
The major positives are the character development which is fantastic, when I began reading I thought to myself I wonder if I’ll want to see more of these characters and the answer is yes. I doubt the author has any intention of revisiting these characters but I for one would love it if he did.