Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil. Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching. When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything.

Historical fiction author Katherine Clements returns with a chilling story that is sure to send shivers down your spine. She crafts a fantastic eerie atmosphere, bringing the moors vividly to life through each season of the year. It reminded me of Wideacre by Philippa Gregory in its evocation of the English landscape, somehow both enchanting and terrifying in its disparate and volatile moods.

The historical detail here is exemplary. The reader feels as though they are standing right beside the characters as they fight to save the lives of a mother sheep and her lamb during a difficult birth, or sitting in the warm fug of a kitchen in the flickering candlelight. Alongside the realistic detail there is a palpable sense of dread, the feeling of someone watching you even when there’s no one around, and a glimpse of impossible things out of the corner of your eye.

Clements does a fantastic job of slowly building up the tension. Items go missing, lambs are found mutilated, and footsteps can be heard inside locked rooms. There is something evil at the hall, but the question is whether the characters will realise the truth before it is too late?

The characters are vividly created. Mercy is a woman who has carefully constructed a cold exterior in order to protect her herself following a previous heartbreak. She has expected all her life that she will inherit Scarcross Hall, as her father’s only heir, and the hall and the land are the only things she allows herself to have any feeling for. She does not act as women of her age and class are supposed to be, and for that vicious rumours swirl about her. And these only intensify when Mercy allows a stranger into her home.

This is a fantastic book to settle down with on a cold winter’s night, a chilling gothic tale of ghosts, family and betrayal.