Review: Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley

Dead of Winter
By Chris Priestley
218 Pages
Published by Bloomsbury USA

An orphaned boy, a desolate house, and a poltergeist with a terrible itch for revenge…

After Michael’s parents die, he is invited to stay with his guardian in a desolate country house. He begins to suspect something is not quite right on the day he arrives when he spots a mysterious woman out in the frozen mists. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself. His guardian is rarely seen, and there’s a malevolent force lurking in an old hallway mirror. As the chilling suspense builds, Michael realizes that the house and its grounds harbor many more secrets-both dead and alive.

I was so super excited to read this one. I am a sucker for a classic, creepy ghost story that takes place in a desolate house. Sadly, this book didn’t really work for me on a couple of levels.

First of all, it moved reeeally slowly. Normally that’s not a make-or-break issue for me but in this case things just moved a little too slow. There wasn’t a lot of action and a few times I found myself having to re-read pages because my mind had wandered. That’s unusual for me. When I read a book I’m usually really focused.

I also never really felt connected to the characters. I felt sorry for Michael but by and large, they were pretty unlikeable. Sir Stephen is a complete weirdo and Lady Charlotte, while seemingly nice enough, is creepily attached to her brother. A few of the house servants were ok but they didn’t get a whole lot of page time.

One thing that I really did like was the ending. I won’t give it away, but I felt that it was perfectly suited and by far the best part of the book.

I’d recommend this book to fans of slow-burning, gothic ghost stories that take place in creepy old English castles. It kind of reminded me of The Haunting by Shirley Jackson, which I also found to be not really to my taste (I’m sure everyone is totally clutching their pearls right now). So while it didn’t really connect with me, don’t let that put you off if it sounds like your cup of tea.

2.75/5 Stars

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