The Dead of Winter
by Chris Priestley (Author)
Young Michael Vyner has lost both his parents – his father to war, his mother to illness. As an orphan in the Victorian era, Michael has a grim life ahead of him. Then, out of the blue, Sir Stephen Clarendon - an aristocrat Michael’s father gave his life to save – becomes the boy’s guardian, and Michael heads off to Sir Stephen’s home, Hawton Mere, to spend Christmas.
Hawton Mere is an old Gothic mansion filled with dark rooms and darker secrets. From the moment Michael arrives he senses something “wrong” about the place. The creepy Sir Stephen does little to reassure him, and as Christmas Day draws closer the atmosphere in the house takes a disturbing turn for the worse…
When it comes to writing horror, Chris Priestley is up there with the best of them. In The Dead of Winter he delivers a taught haunted house tale, written in a style reminiscent of horror classics Dracula and Frankenstein. Although this more formal style works well for the Victorian narrator, it may be off-putting for some readers.
The book sets out to deliver a ghost story, and that’s exactly what it does. No more, no less. There’s not a lot new or original here, but the plot is solid and the characters are well developed. The ending all happens a little too quickly, and experienced readers will see it coming a mile off, but this is a fast read that manages to be spooky in all the right places.
This review was published online in