I have always been of the mindset that an adult shouldn’t dismiss a book as childish or uninteresting just because it was marketed as a children’s novel. Intrigue and mystery are the very essence of this debut novel. Set in Victorian England, Frost Hollow Hall is an intricate ghost story that is both captivating and surprisingly deep. This is one of the reasons why I consider this novel to be one of my all-time favourites.
The following is a spoiler-free review which was requested by Violetrosy0.
Summary: The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut. Winter, 1881. In the middle of a frozen lake, a girl is skating. She’s not supposed to be here. No one is. Not since Kit Barrington drowned at Frost Hollow Hall ten years ago. But the dead don’t scare Tilly Higgins. The ice is thin. It cracks. Suddenly she’s under the water, drowning. Near death, a strange spirit appears to her, a boy so beautiful Tilly’s sure he’s an angel. But he’s a ghost. And a very troubled ghost. And he desperately needs her help…
This novel is beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s not what I expected when I first looked at the cover. But it’s how I felt after I finished reading the book. The principle mystery of the story is, why is the main character being overwhelmed with ghostly visions? What does the spirit of the young boy want from her? And what are the inhabitants of Frost Hollow Hall hiding behind their heavily closed doors? The story is delivered in an enticing way that leaves the reader hungry for more, to the point where you can easily read the book in a single day. There are small clues scattered throughout the book to answer these questions and the big reveal at the end is absolutely worth it. For those who aren’t fans of ghost stories, this one isn’t as scary, as much as it is life-affirming.
Just to give some idea about the characterisation, the main character, Tilly, is a vivacious and strong-willed girl who is easy to relate to. She often feels at-odds with her family and has an amusing love-hate relationship with her schoolboy crush, Will Porter. The other characters are also interesting, particularly the hosekeeper, Mrs Jessop, who is a paradox of forboding and maternal personalities, appearing to be hiding secrets of her own. In other words, if you are looking for a book with good characterisation and an engaging storyline, this might just be the book for you. I would absolutely recommend it.
R/T: Rose and Thorn (please see About section for information)