Reviews | Written by Tony Cowin 16/10/2020



The Haunted Shore follows prodigal daughter Lizzy Valentine back home to the Suffolk coast. Her life in London at an end with a trail of debt, fraud and attempted suicide in her wake. She lands at the renovated Martello tower in Shingle Street hiding and hoping for a new start. Exchanging the high life of London for the tall tower of her childhood. Once there she’s placed in charge of her convalescing father along with the somewhat unconventional carer Hazel the live-in carer.

The history of the shore is not what it first appears, not to Lizzy, not to her memory and not even to reality at times. A place where folklore swims in the wash of the sea and secrets of war haunt the darkness of Orford Ness across the water. A place where memories seem to exist only with the dead.

In essence the novel is one about memories. Those of anger, grief and lost memories like a broken Polaroid photograph. Memories of the horrors of war buried for decades ripe to be unearthed.

While the first half unfolds like a conventional thriller, though one with hints of possible unreliable plots and characters, it’s laying the foundations for later horrors. These twisted plots are given space to unfurl and grow as the seasons pass at Shingle Street. The story is filled by varied cast of characters coming and going, often going as soon as we meet them. But all find their way back eventually, like Agatha Christie assembling her pieces just at the precise moment. That’s where The Haunted Shore sets itself apart form more prosaic gothic thrillers, it’s also a real whodunit that keeps you guessing right to the end… and even a bit further.

This novel, imbued with addiction, loss, regret and the fallibility of memory is a perfect read for the Halloween season and beyond. Because while there may or may not be ghosts in the secret military base in Orford Ness across the water, there are certainly hauntings of every other kind within these characters. The people and their past have a darkness rising. There are secrets to be told. What better place to hear them but on a Haunted Shore?

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