I received this as a review copy via the publishers.
Heron House in Carmarthenshire the eerie setting for this supernatural thriller bridging the late 40s and 2005.
Londoner Jason Robbins signs up for a creative-writing course to be held in the sprawling property that has seen better days. Jason is enamoured by cook Helen who meets him from the station, but is wary of sinister elderly Davies cleaner & gardener duo who seem to have some kind of hold of their scheming employer Monty Flynn.
When Helen & Jason find a local old lady dead in her home, they both start experiencing things that they can’t explain. Strange stains and smells in Heron House appear and disappear, books fly across the room and they both start seeing strange scenes and hearing the same voice 0 that of Magriad.
But who is Magriad? What does she have to do with Heron House? Why does Monty Flynn suddenly need to rush off to London? And what does this all have to do with the events of 1946?
This book felt like it took me an age to finish – but I was determined to, even though I dreaded reading it every time I picked it up.
I know that I have had a lot on my mind recently, but even taking that into account, I found this horrendously confusing. Because of the two storylines, there were two sets of characters, and the cast for each seemed to be rather large. I got quite lost as to who various people were, and where they fit in.
I can’t fault Spedding for creating an atmospheric setting, but I wasn’t quite as convinced with her huge cast of characters. Jason & Helen felt believable enough, and seemed pretty well realised, but I couldn’t really understand the motivations for the rest of them – so it felt that no matter how they acted, it confused me!
It also felt unnecessarily graphic at some points. I kind of get why, but perhaps because I didn’t buy into many of the characters, it really felt disturbingly harsh. There was really only one sexual scene, but then I have have never read a story with so many references to a woman’s period – it felt almost sick. Yes…there was eventually a reason to it, but I felt that every few pages I was having to read about it, and the end by no means made up for the uncomfortable reading.
And I am in no way a prude by a long shot!
I’d be interested in finding anyone else who has read this, to see whether it’s just my current state of mind that made this so unenjoyably confusing. I can’t say I would pick up another one of her books.
**UPDATE** In contrast to my own review, there is another more complimentary one here: http://gmtaliterarycommunity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cold-remains-by-sally-speddingreview.html
I like to be fair!