An English Ghost Story

Sleep­less Hol­low

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

304 pages | £ 7.99 ( pa­per­back) Au­thor: Kim New­man Pub­lisher: Ti­tan Books

Film critic and genre

cognoscenti Kim New­man is best known for his Anno Drac­ula nov­els, which take a tan­ta­lis­ing premise – what if the Count con­quered Europe? – and use it to weave an epic alt- his­tory. An English Ghost Story couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent in both tone and scale: it’s a stand­alone work fo­cus­ing on a sin­gle fam­ily.

The Nare­more fam­ily have moved to the Hol­low, an iso­lated house in ru­ral Som­er­set, where they soon re­alise that there are su­per­nat­u­ral forces at work – which is fine with them. It’s a happy place. Grad­u­ally, how­ever, the silent treaty be­tween spirit and hu­man be­gins to fray.

All the el­e­ments of a clas­sic spook story are here: a mys­te­ri­ous build­ing with a mind of its own; halfglimpsed fig­ures who may or may not be there; a deep sense of fore­bod­ing. But the Hol­low isn’t the Over­look Ho­tel and the ghosts are gen­er­ally be­nign. The prob­lems stem in­stead from the Naramores’ trou­bled his­tory and strained per­sonal re­la­tion­ships.

New­man cap­tures the mad­ness and mun­dan­ity of fam­ily life well. Vin­tage- loving teen Jor­dan oc­ca­sion­ally feels like a slightly ob­nox­ious mouthpiece for his views on con­tem­po­rary pop cul­ture, but that’s for­give­able in this beau­ti­fully writ­ten book, which be­gins with a fairy tale- like sense of won­der be­fore giv­ing way to some­thing much more sin­is­ter. Will Sal­mon

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