Book Review: Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll

FrosthollowhallThe 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.

Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .

Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery

Received off Netgalley as an ebook and read on an ipad using kindle software.

10 years after the drowning of the young Kit Barrington, Tilly is sitting at home with her sister and mother, awaiting the return of her father who has been working away. Will, the local butcher’s boy, arrives and dares her to go skating with him. She accepts without realising that he means to go skating on the very lake where Kit had drowned 10 years before.

The ice breaks under Tilly, making her fall into the water. Whilst she is drowning, she is visited by a blond and beautiful angel, who ensures that she doesnt drown – however she gets the impression that he has saved her, in order that she saves him.

Over the next few days, and with the help of Will and the downstairs staff, Tilly spends more time with in Frost Hollow Hall, and even seeing the remaining family members. She finds out how she can the angry young spirit inhabiting the house and tries, even when the adults around her dont want her to. There are secrets held by many, in and outside of the house, and that adds strain to the situation. 

There are hauntings at several different layers – the house as a whole gets haunted by angry spirits that hurt and break things, Tilly gets haunted with dreams of her blond haired angel calling to her to return to her, and Kit’s mother is haunted by memories of her dead son who never comes back to visit her in dreams or otherwise.  Tilly also has to deal with personal grief of her own, when she realises that neither her father nor her sister are the people she thought they were.

In the end (trying not to do plot spoilers here), Tilly is the agent that brings certain issues to a head, and moves people to action where they have previously been stuck in a moment. She is also able to come to some level of acceptance of what her father and sister have done, and she can see her own, better, path without them.

This is down as a “Children’s book” and I’m certainly impressed with it whether that’s the right category or not for it. I have already recommended it to someone with teenage boys as an October read. Well done Emma!

 

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