Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Two families. 100 years apart. A sinister haunting…”
HA! This book has made me realise that I am officially the biggest scaredy cat on earth. I’m actually embarrassed with how many times I’ve looked around, expecting to see a ghostly figure, or been scared to enter a dark room in case something jumps out at me and mauls me to death. This book has been the BEST experience I’ve had with a horror story and I’m just laughing to myself with how much it’s affected me! If you love horror and you love Halloween, treat yourself to this book right now because I cannot praise it enough.
It was supposed to be the dream house for Adam, Catherine, and their daughter, Bella. But dream houses can hold secrets. Settling in to their new home, the family realise they are not the only inhabitants of Abberton House.
A dark past continues to haunt the idyllic Yorkshire home, and those who remain want Adam and Catherine to know the truth. Frightened, Adam and Catherine begin to piece together what really happened at this once perfect abode.
A missing family, an elderly man searching for the truth, and secrets waiting to be revealed, moving in to Abberton House could be the worst decision the family made.
The opening to the book really gave me those horror vibes! The first chapter isn’t really scary, but because of how the author gives us a detailed backstory of a family from 100 years ago, we know that this particular family would play a ghostly part in the book later down the line. The information we get about this family is so extensive, and I felt I really got to know them in their time at Abberton house. Fast forward to December 2015, and we meet another family, a family who want nothing more than to live in an old farmhouse in the Yorkshire countryside. I felt like shouting, “Nooooo don’t do it!” but of course, I wanted more than anything for them to move into this house, and I was so excited for what they’d discover there. The first few chapters succeeded in drawing me in, and I was desperate for more spooky experiences!
I’ve read another of this author’s books, Blind Date, and even though the genres are completely different, I could really see her style of writing shine through in this book too! Even though the book is quite dark in its nature, we still see some very subtle humour which was appreciated. (I must add that this is NOT because I was scared whilst reading, honest…) We soon hear about a few strange things that this family don’t think are out of the ordinary just yet; an old man is looking for his wife miles away from home and suddenly disappears before they can get help, strange noises and movements happen within the house that the family just pass off as nothing… what next?! Why didn’t they question any of these experiences? It was only a matter of time before they saw or heard something that would give them the shock of their lives.
Okay, it didn’t take long for me to start listening to the sounds of my own house while I was reading this book. It’s strange isn’t it? When you’re reading a scary book or watching a scary film, you notice every noise ten times louder than you would on a normal day! That’s what I started to experience, and it quickly became apparent that I’d need to close the curtains and turn the light on if I was to get out of this book without scaring myself to death! The author has perfected every creepy element and each nervous feeling from her characters, and portrayed this in a way that sends those ghostly shivers down your spine. It’s rare I feel this way when reading a book of this genre, (because I’m hard as nails, obviously) but this one has to be one of creepiest I’ve experienced!
“Mummy, there’s a man in the window.”
I loved how the book goes back and forth in time, focusing on different eras and different characters. The author has very carefully changed her writing style to fit in with the original Abberton family, and the new family who are now living in Abberton House. The two stories we read are so different, but there are great scenes that link both of these families together which was so clever. There was so much depth to the book and it quickly becomes something you can get lost in. Just when we think the creepiness has calmed down a little, we’re hit with yet another chilling moment! I had to call it a night right there before I scared myself to death, so put the book down until the next day 😭 I was really looking forward to getting to the middle of the book, even though I knew things would only get scarier. Brave faces at the ready, everyone!
Aside from the creepy goings on at Abberton House, I thought the pacing and flow of the story was just right, and it had everything I love in a book. Everything fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle and I thought the author had done an amazing job with the plot! The more we learn about the Abberton family all those years ago, the more the book begins to make sense to us. I loved reading both family’s stories and the personalities of each character really shine through. As modern day Adam and Catherine begin to learn about the legend of the house and exactly what happened all those years ago, they are stunned, especially with everything they’d already been experiencing at the house. Could there really be a bunch of ghosts living in their newly bought home?! I think I’d be moving out straight away!
The noises and the strange experiences become too frequent that they simply can’t be ignored, and Bella seems to be the least scared out of the lot, even though she’s a child! As Bella’s ‘imaginary friend’ becomes a little less imaginary, as both Adam and Catherine experience her energetic behaviour, even though they haven’t seen her with their own eyes just yet. The author has built up suspense perfectly and each time there’s a scary scene, they seem to escalate a little more than the last. Knowing that there would be more to come, potentially even more frightening, was both exciting and terrifying for me, never mind the characters in the book! How much more would this family put up with before they took action? They were so much braver than me that’s for sure!
I found the story of Elizabeth and Henry so enchanting and every time the story flew back 100 years, I found their journey such a heart-wrenching one. I even enjoyed reading about Michael’s involvement and how much Elizabeth’s children had taken a liking to him. When the new family see a woman in their window who they believe to be Elizabeth, we see a change in Catherine’s bravery as she plans to talk to this ghostly woman to find out exactly what she has to tell them. There was still some sort of mystery we were yet to get to the bottom of, and each chapter made me desperate for answers. The book was quickly becoming such a memorable one for me, and I secretly hoped we’d see a conversation between both families, discovering some shocking secrets!
“That was her. That was the little girl. That’s Charlotte.”
The book was as much a romance story as it was a horror, and the whole thing was written so well, playing with our emotions. One minute, we’re scared of the dark, jumping at every single noise. Next, we’re nearly in tears learning of Elizabeth and Michael’s forbidden relationship! The author has really taken a leap with this book and pulled out all the stops. Combining these genres has worked incredibly well and each complement the story perfectly. As we were nearing the end of the book, there were a few things I wanted to know. What did the Abberton’s want to tell the new family? Would they stay at Abberton House forever, or would they soon move on once they got closure? Everything was so exciting and I was desperate for answers!
My god, my emotions! I found myself feeling so sad for Henry, Elizabeth’s husband at war, and as a reader I was starting to understand more about why Elizabeth left and just why the ghost of an old man was still at Abberton House, looking for his family 100 years later. The new family at the house finally speak to the ghostly family, even though they don’t get much out of them at first, and the way this was unveiled made for such great, nerve-wracking reading. Were this family as scary as we first thought? Were the family in danger and should they leave the house as soon as possible? The story releases new information slowly, making us even more curious and desperate for those answers.
The scenes close to the ending of the book are some of the most terrifying I’ve read – it was as if I was watching one of those ghost hunting shows on TV! The description and detail the author uses is fabulous and each scene is so easy to visualise. At some points in the book, I totally lost track of time and space, thinking I was in that room with the ghost of Elizabeth, or witnessing Charlotte running up and down the stairs as if it was in my own home! Everything about the book impressed me, and just when I thought things couldn’t get any more creepy, the author strikes again,, leaving readers wondering what on earth was going to happen next.
I wondered whether the author had ever experienced any paranormal activity of her own before to have written such a detailed, enthralling story. Things began to escalate and I became increasingly concerned for this family’s safety. I was terrified! It’s so strange how words can have so much of an impact on you, and Catherine and Adam quickly begin to fear the worst as the injuries begin – as did I! The further I read, the more saddening the story became and I just couldn’t take much more! Tears were imminent and I was desperate to see how this story ends. I love how we have absolutely no idea at this point and I loved all the mystery! Would there be a happy ending? Would we be left wondering what the outcome was for both of these families?
“I don’t think they’re trying to hurt us. They’re trying to tell us something. They want our help.”
The final couple of chapters well and truly did me in! I was so overcome with emotion, so much emotion in fact that I wasn’t even sure what emotion I was feeling! The way the ending was told was so powerful, so dark, so sinister, and I could not have wished for a better finale. I was sat in awe for at least 20 minutes before I could move and I’m ready to start the book all over again! This is the perfect Halloween read and will be my ultimate Halloween recommendation for this year. I really hope the author writes more paranormal horror because this one is a true masterpiece. A five star read no doubt about it!
Is there anything this author can’t do?! This book is the book you need to read, especially if you’re a Halloween fanatic or if you just love a bit of paranormal horror! Even though it’s very different to her usual rom-com works, this book really exceeded all my expectations. The story was captivating from beginning to end, made me jump a mile several times (thanks Debbie) and forced me to become so attached to two groups of characters I’ll never forget. I won’t hesitate to give this book five stars – it truly deserves it! An amazing book!
A huge thanks to the author, Debbie Ioanna, and Panther Publishing for my copy of the book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of Abberton House well in advance for Halloween through Panther Publishing’s website (help out a small publisher!) or through Amazon. You can follow the author over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!