The Haunting Of Hattie Hastings – Book Review

“Life was so cruel, snatching away the innocents while the depraved and evil were left to roam the world.”

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts over on Twitter and Instagram lately, you’ll have probably noticed that I’m a very big fan of this book. In fact, I’ve probably posted about this particular book more frequently than I have about my own! In a nutshell, this book blew me away, and I genuinely cannot wait to share my review with you.

The Haunting Of Hattie Hastings by Audrey Davis was book review #3 for Books Of All Shades. I was so excited that the next book on my “to be read” list was all about another Hattie. The MC in my own novel is called Hattie! Yes, just this little bit of information alone made me jump for joy.

As well as this, I also found some other similarities to my own book, which made me love it even more. It made me realise that my story works and that Audrey Davis was soon to become one of my new favourite authors.

Hattie Hastings is such a lovable character. She’s married to Gary, who, aside from being a big pain in the bum at times, is the love of her life. However, an unexpected tragedy tears him from her life, and the grieving process sets in. She has to learn to cope without him, which proves to be incredibly hard, as you’d expect.

To her surprise, Gary returns, but not exactly as she remembers him. Will anyone believe her? Can she convince those closest to her that she is not losing her marbles? This ghostly rom-com follows the stories of a few characters, each crucial to the telling of the story and Hattie’s experiences with the paranormal.

The beginning.

I was the last out of the three of our book club to make a start on this one. I’d heard great things from Maria and Jay, so I was itching to get started. The first thing that I adored was Audrey’s style of writing. She is hilarious! She writes in a chatty tone and references a lot of British things and places. I really liked this as I could relate to these things, but I can understand how some of the language could be a little difficult to understand if you’re not from ’round these parts. English peeps – you’ll definitely be able to relate to a lot of the description. Non-English peeps – welcome to our world of cheap clothing stores and budget supermarkets!

I think I’d just started Chapter 2 when I sent the Books Of All Shades team a message telling them I loved the book already! Of course they laughed – I was very over enthusiastic, but I meant it! It’s not often you read a single chapter of a book and instantly feel in the middle of the action. I knew this one would be a good read from that point onwards.

The events at the start of the book were very fast paced. Before I started, I had the impression that Gary would leave us towards the middle of the book, but it pretty much happened straight away. This made me realise the book wasn’t necessarily about how he passed, but more about how he returns! A pretty good angle to take in a novel, and not one you’d expect straight from the off.

“He had all the staying power of a three-day-old Elastoplast and the attention span of an amnesiac goldfish.”

Each chapter focuses on a different character, which allows us to get to know others in the story as well as we know Hattie. There’s Cat, Hattie’s best friend, who has started a new relationship and is finding her feet. There’s also Hattie’s son and her mother, who are pretty much exact opposites, and Hattie’s homosexual brother, Jack. In fact, Audrey’s diverse set of characters make the story line incredibly likeable.

The beginning of the book really does hit home. We’ve all lost a loved one at some point in our lives, and it’s going to happen again and again, no matter how heartbreaking it is to think about. We can really relate to Hattie, and when Gary shows his face again, we can’t help but do a little fist pump. Well, I couldn’t anyway… 😀

The middle.

There’s a great middle chunk to the book which involves Hattie listening to the ghost of Gary and doing what he tells her. This is a little strange for a number of reasons. Number one, Gary is dead, and only his ghost remains. Number 2, well…how would you feel if you listened to a ghost?

Gary meets a young boy in The Present – the place where he finds himself residing after he passes. He begs Gary to pass on a message to his parents which is something that Hattie needs to do. Will she travel for miles to put his parents at ease? Should she really be trusting something that a ghost is telling her?

I think this part of the book has been really well written. (Well, it all has, but I particularly liked this bit!) We see Hattie’s concerns as she weighs up the pros and cons of this action. Is it the right thing to do or will people begin to think she’s going crazy? We can feel what Hattie is feeling which then leads us as readers to ponder the question, “What would I do?”

“She had a faraway look in her eyes, which Hattie hoped wasn’t due to misplaced nostalgia for a man who’d crushed her confidence as casually as an empty Coke can.”

As well as Hattie’s dilemmas and the ridiculous actions of her best friend, Cat, (come on Cat, what are you playing at?!) Audrey also explores topics a lot of us can relate to. We see scenes of heartache, dealing with illness, worry, love, death – pretty much any emotion ever is covered! I’ve already mentioned that I love Audrey’s humour in her writing, but the way she writes the more serious scenes is even more astounding. Applause, please!

Okay, so I can’t move on without voicing my opinions on old Stewart. What an arsehole! I guess a lot of us have dealt with someone as controlling and as manipulative as him in our lives and he really needs to do one. (Sorry Audrey. In fact, I think you’ve done amazingly to create a character I despise! 😀 )

The amount of times I smiled and laughed throughout the middle of the book was just too many to count. Audrey’s language, character creation and story line is simply faultless. However, what I really wanted to know was how all this was going to end!

The end.

We share Hattie’s relief and sense of accomplishment as she carries out an incredibly brave and important deed. She changes the lives of some very vulnerable people, a selfless act that makes her feel much better about things in the end.

We find out a lot more about Clarence, and his time helping those in The Present move on to The Next Realm. We get to understand in more detail that these people have a mission to complete before they can move on. Knowing that Gary’s mission is almost complete leaves us thinking, “…but what will happen to Gary?!”

The ending of the book captured every tiny piece of me. Beautifully written, heart-wrenching and a pure masterpiece. There’s some saddening news and some wonderful news, and I think Audrey created the most perfect ending. Not necessarily for all of the characters, but for the story line itself.

“The eloquence of the words, conveying the bittersweet agony of finding love and knowing it can never endure.”

As well as this, the ending of the story is a lesson. A lesson to live each day to the fullest, because you never know what’s around the corner. Hattie has taught me to have a little more strength at times and the confidence to keep going when things get tough. It all sounds a little cliche of me to say, but Audrey has done and incredible job building up a bit of positivity for readers to take away with them. It definitely worked for me!

Overall thoughts.

I’ve never read a book that has spurred me on to finish my own story as much as this one has. I think the similarities between my current WIP and The Haunting Of Hattie Hastings have made this more apparent. Something that I will be forever grateful for.

I loved Gary’s character so much – such a witty, hilarious and loving husband to Hattie. In fact, I feel like I’ve gotten to know every single one of Audrey’s character creations. They’ve been described incredibly well and each are very likeable in their own way. Except Stewart. *angry face*

Audrey’s novel has secured a very comfortable place in my heart. I’d like to say a huge thank you to her for giving me the chance to read and review the book. It’s been a pleasure, and I can’t wait to get hold of more of her work in the future! You can purchase a copy of The Haunting Of Hattie Hastings from Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. 📚 Follow Audrey over on Twitter to keep up to date!

Want an in-depth book review?

If you like what you see here and think, “You know what, I want a review for my book!” then all you have to do is ask. We’re a friendly trio of reviewers and we’d love to make your day by cooking up some honest book reviews for you! Email us at booksofallshades@gmail.com and we’ll add you to our list. Follow us over on Twitter and Instagram to see which awesome books we’re reviewing at the moment!

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