Peter James is best known for his Roy Grace crime series, but he is also known for a few standalone, supernatural novels. His latest release, The House on Cold Hill, which is a traditional haunted house horror story. These types of novels can be fairly limited in scope, with many stories being focused on a family moving into a house and finding supernatural entities already present. Although this novel also follows the conventional haunted house story, Peter James is able to write an intriguing story.
The opening of the novel really portrays James’ approach to this story, which is to make a brutally shocking and fast-paced novel. The very beginning of the novel will get the readers hooked straight away, but the pace does slow down to enable tension and characterisation. The short chapters throughout the novel enable the tension to be built slowly and allows the delivery of a few shocking supernatural moments.
The characters in the novel can both be likeable, but at times frustratingly unaware of all the events that are going on. Ollie and Caro Harcourt are the main characters that move into the house. James effectively uses these characters and their occupations to weave in the supernatural elements of the story. This allows the horror elements to also take place outside of the confines of the house. The character of Jade, Ollie and Caro’s younger daughter, does come across as the stereotypical youth in this novel, and unfortunately her moments in the story can slow down the pacing.
Overall, The House on Cold Hill does have some new elements to the classic haunted house tale, but it is unable to go beyond these confining walls. The novel is a fast-paced tale, and although it is a predictable read, it is a well written classic haunted house story, with a few twists and turns that are a welcome addition to a haunted house novel. This is a good ghost story, with some spine chilling moments and a few intriguing twists that enable it to be distinguishable from other, similar titles.THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL / AUTHOR: PETER JAMES / PUBLISHER: MACMILLAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (HARDBACK), JUNE 23RD (PAPERBACK)