Published by Stripes Publishing on January 7, 2016
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Ghost, Haunted House, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Supernatural, Suspense, witch
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Some curses grow stronger with time… People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember. Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one spirit is more vengeful than ever… A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte.
THE HAUNTING is the third book I’ve read by author Alex Bell. I love her smooth writing style–regardless of whether I’m in the middle of an action-packed scene, or a quiet conversation between friends, her prose propels me along effortlessly from page to page.
In this novel, Bell takes on the subjects of witches, curses, shipwrecks, and superstitions surrounding Cornish Inns. The supernatural is a topic that this author tackles very well, and the fluidity of this book is a testament to that. The Waterwitch is an Inn built from the salvaged remains of a cursed ship. This vessel was built by a man responsible for accusing a woman of witchcraft, which led directly to her horrifying, torturous death.
“Once you see the witch, there’s no going back . . . Once you see her face, it’s over.”
The Inn, now closed since Emma’s grandmother had been moved to a nursing home, is currently being watched over by Jem Penhale and his sister–descendants of the very man that built the cursed ship–now Inn. For the first time since an accident there landed her in a wheelchair, Emma goes back to the Waterwitch.
“. . . The Waterwitch is not a suitable place for you . . . It’s not a suitable place for any person.”
Bell goes into great detail explaining the local superstitions, methods of dealing with witches in years past, and various customs used to ward off a “witch’s curse” from a location. Her descriptions of the individual “hauntings” occurring at the Waterwitch were original and honestly gave me the shivers on more than one occasion.
“. . . it’s not just haunted any more; it’s angry, too.”
In addition to the morbidly disturbing atmosphere, we are given some great characters to attach ourselves to. Emma, her former best friend, Jem, and his younger sister, Shell, all have their own distinct outlooks on the situation. Some treat it as intolerable superstition: “. . . these sailors had a never-ending list of things that were considered bad luck on a ship . . . “ . While others took the events as proof positive that the curse was dangerously real.
“. . . sometimes you just have to scream for help anyway, even when you know that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to help you.”
Overall, I really enjoyed this tale from Alex Bell. A combination of awful historical practices, and an undying vengeance with some unique scenes and situations, made this book stand out among so many others in the category. If you haven’t read anything from this author yet, what are you waiting for?
“. . . Unnatural place–sitting there on dry land like that, trying to convince people it’s not a ship at all.”
About Alex Bell
About Alex Bell
To that end she eagerly started a Law Degree only to find it so boring that she was at a very real risk of going completely insane. To mitigate this she started writing again. The second book got her an agent with Carolyn Whitaker of London Independent Books but, unfortunately, not a publisher. The third book, written during her first summer holidays off from university, found a home with Gollancz. The Ninth Circle came out in April 2008 with possibly the most beautiful cover ever created (matched only by her second book, Jasmyn).
Not one to learn from past experience, Alex started the Legal Practice Course in London. There she met some great people and had a lot of fun messing about during lessons that were clearly meant to be extremely solemn affairs. Thankfully, she dropped out just before the point where all students must submit to the personality-removing process that is a compulsory part of being an esteemed member of the legal profession.
Now she happily dwells in an entirely make-believe world of blood, death, madness, murder and mayhem. The doctors have advised that it is best not to disturb her, for she appears to be happy there.