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The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert

The Secret of Crickley Hall

by James Herbert

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A little bit like a ITV TV drama this has some appealing features, which draws one in. The characterisations and setting appear to be involving but all too soon this feels like your standard haunted house story. There are lots of cliched and dull occurrences which make one feel as though you're watching a bad ITV TV movie. Some intriguing plot twists, but too long, too unoriginal and too predictable. All of that said, this is a very easy, very "moreish" read. ( )
  aadyer | Oct 15, 2016 |
The Secret of Crickley Hall James Herbert

It has been nearly a year since Gabe and Eve's son Cameron went missing worried about his wifes mental state approaching this anniversary Gabe decides the family need a change of scenery and moves them to Crickley Hall in Devon.

Crickley Hall turns out to be the last thing the family needs, first the family dog Chester cannot stand the house and its not long before Eve and her daughters Cally and Loren are experiencing unexplained phenomenon.

They discover the tragic history of the house and its not long before thing begin to unravel dramatically.

The book is darker than the TV series although the TV series is a pretty accurated adaptation. I think because I had seen the TV series first I constantly had the cast in my head and was expecting the next actions if I had not seen the TV series this may have rated higher and it certainly would have been scarier. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
It’s almost Halloween as I write so I’m in the mood for some creepy read. If you are ever in the mood for horror fiction and you have never read anything by James Herbert you have been outrageously remiss. In the 70s and 80s James Herbert was King, practically [a:Stephen King|3389|Stephen King|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1362814142p2/3389.jpg] as teens and horror fans were reading his books all over the place (in the UK where I was residing any way I have no idea about Herbertism in other countries). His most widely known book [b:The Rats|397867|The Rats (Rats, #1)|James Herbert|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356454885s/397867.jpg|2452726] was published in 1974 it was a barnstorming debut, an ultra-violent, graphic and horrific little novel about mutant rats. His second novel [b:The Fog|397860|The Fog|James Herbert|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348466044s/397860.jpg|1260691] was even worse (or better, depends on how you look at it). He was 31 at the time.
The Secret Of Crickley Hall was published in 2006 when Herbert was 63, I would say age has mellowed him over the years. That said, “Crickley” still pretty damn gruesome in places and not for the faint of heart. However, in addition to the Herbertian patented ew! factor this book is also quite compassionate, poignant and even sentimental. A lot of care and attention has been put into developing the characters.

This is basically a haunted house story, not a first from Mr. Herbert (see [b:Haunted|397868|Haunted (David Ash, #1)|James Herbert|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347578899s/397868.jpg|2239286]. All the haunted house tropes are in place; a nice family (with cute kids and a dog) move into a spooky old house with a dark history, things soon start to go bump in the night. The wife is open to the idea of supernatural phenomena, but the husband is extremely skeptical, soon a psychic and even a paranormal investigator show up.

The book is saved from becoming pointlessly predictable by the characterization, the gradually unfolding backstory of the eponymous house and Herbert’s sheer story telling skills. I haven't read anything by him for years; I have forgotten how good he was at grabbing your attention and never letting go. However, the backstory of the house does involve some scenes of extreme cruelty to children so if you are easily offended by such scenes this book is seriously not for you. Even so, the theme of children’s basic right to love, comfort and protection is evident and even highlighted by the harrowing details of their ordeal. I don’t think the author’s intention is to titillate, not something that can be said about the violent scenes in [b:The Rats|397867|The Rats (Rats, #1)|James Herbert|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356454885s/397867.jpg|2452726]. If I have a complaint it would be the characterization of Gabe the skeptical husband whose extreme skepticism in the face of extremely weird occurrences make him seem like an imbecile of first water. The way he relentlessly rationalizes the unrationalizable makes me want to improve his outlook with a frying pan.

The supernatural events in the story are vividly depicted and very creepy, as you would expect from an author who has been writing such material for decades. [a:Neil Gaiman|1221698|Neil Gaiman|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1234150163p2/1221698.jpg] said this of James Herbert: “His first book was a bestseller, which is something that happens to very few writers. He had to do all his growing up in public. He had to learn to write in public.”. His growth as a writer over the decades of his career has been tremendous. His prose is highly readable, often witty without ever becoming clumsy; it makes for a very smooth reading experience.

Sadly James Herbert passed away a few months ago (March 2013), so this review is intended to be something of a tribute. Thanks to his prolificacy while I have read many books by him there are still many that I have yet to read.

R.I.P. Mr. Herbert, you were the best.

Note: The Secret Of Crickley Hall was adapted by the BBC and broadcasted last year (2012). ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
I consider Herbert's book THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL to be a solidly entertaining book. It follows the typical pattern for a haunted house story: scary looking house abandoned years in the past due to a tragic event, new family moves in, spooky things happen, events are ignored, big spooky things happen and everything comes to a conclusion. It's a comfortable pattern and Herbert follows it.

In this case, it is the Caleigh family that moves to the new location for the husband's job and to escape the dread due to their son being missing for almost a year. The family experiences weird happenings which are generally ignored or rationalized away by the father until they can no longer be ignored.

Unfortunately while the haunted house story is a comfortable pattern, it is also a familiar one. It means that the author has to go beyond the normal and do something to pull the reader's in further. It could be character depth to make everyone real or something to break the normal pattern, but something is needed. While Herbert is more than talented enough to provide that something, he does not in this case. Instead we're left with a solid story that is entertaining but which does not grasp us as much as it should. The spooky isn't quite spooky enough. We don't quite care enough for the characters. And the one surprise that does occur was not enough. I would still recommend the novel but I would also be sure to reduce your expectations so that you aren't disappointed. ( )
  dagon12 | Jun 25, 2015 |
A family moves into Crickley Hall to have some healing from their son's disappearance almost a year ago. Then the sounds and hauntings and dreams begin. What really happened to the orphans that lived in the house during WWII?

Sound ghost story. At times a little wordy, but solid. Who doesn't love a good ghost story set in a mansion in the dreary English countryside. The mom in the book did annoy me a bit though. I know she went through this tragedy, but jesus woman...see a therapist or something. You still have a family that needs you. ( )
  bookwormteri | Jan 21, 2015 |
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'From the darkness let the innocent speak so that the guilty may know their shame'
'The evil that men do lives after them...'
'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.'
PROVERBS ch 22, v 6
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They scattered into a darkness scarcely tempered by oil lamps, the soft glow easily repressed by the deep shadows of the house.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330411683, Paperback)

There is an old, empty house in Devils Cleave, a deep gorge that leads from the high moors down to the harbour village of Hollow Bay. The house is Crickley Hall and its large and grim, somehow foreboding. Its rumoured to be haunted. Its thought to hold a secret. Despite some reservations, the Caleighs move in, searching for respite in this beautiful part of North Devon, seeking peace and perhaps to come to terms with whats happened to them as a family. But all is not well with the house. They hear unaccountable noises. A cellar door they shut every night is always open again in the morning. They see things that cannot be real. The house is the last place the Caleighs should have come to, for the terror that unfolds is beyond belief. Soon they will discover the secret horror of Crickley Hall . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

'The Secret of Crickley Hall' is a blend of horror & thriller fiction. It explores the darker, more obtuse territories of evil, evoking a sense of brooding menace & rising tension. It tries to draw the reader through to the story's ultimate revelation, so that it will stay to chill the mind.… (more)

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