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The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert
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The Secret of Crickley Hall (edition 2007)

by James Herbert

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5172632,837 (3.53)14
The Caleighs have had a terrible year...They need time and space, while they await the news they dread. Gabe has brought his wife, Eve, and daughters, Loren and Cally, down to Devon, to the peaceful seaside village of Hollow Bay. He can work and Eve and the kids can have some peace and quiet and perhaps they can try, as a family, to come to terms with what's happened to them...Crickley Hall is an unusually large house on the outskirts of the village at the bottom of Devil's Cleave, a massive tree-lined gorge - the stuff of local legend. A river flows past the front garden. It's perfect for them...if it a bit gloomy. And Chester, their dog, seems really spooked at being away from home. And old houses do make sounds. And it's constantly cold. And, even though they shut the cellar door every night, it's always open again in morning.… (more)
Member:googoomuck
Title:The Secret of Crickley Hall
Authors:James Herbert
Info:Pan (2007), Edition: 1st Pan Book Edition, Paperback, 400 pages
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The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I have been meaning to read a James Herbert novel for years, but unfortunately for me, I picked a duff 'un. Not bad enough to abandon, even clocking in at over 600 pages, but still more of an endurance test than a ghost story. The plot was intriguing enough, if decidedly lacking in originality and belaboured with every device known to horror writers, but the writing was atrocious! Not only is James Herbert of the 'Tell Don't Show' school of fiction, he's the patron saint. There was so much unnecessary detail in this book - even minor characters sound like police e-fits, all medium builds with low foreheads and clothing itemised by brand - that a decent editor would have been able to chop this book in half with ease. (And don't forget the humble bracket for wedging in additional pointless facts!)

I vaguely remember this being made into a BBC miniseries with the ubiquitous Suranne Jones a few years ago, which would probably have been a quicker introduction to Herbert than reading this brick of a book. The story is the same - after the loss of their young son, the Caleigh family move from London to the Devon coast while husband Gabe (he's American! and an engineer!) is working on a sea turbine project (which you'll learn all about, even though his work isn't relevant!) Unfortunately, they make the mistake of renting Crickley Hall, which is haunted to the hilt, all creaking doors and banging in the night, not to mention mysterious wet patches drifting up from the cellar. The dog runs away after a couple of days, but nope, Gabe doesn't believe in ghosts, so they'll just have to hack it. Through lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnng scenes of exposition ('Are you growing tired of my reminiscences, Eve?'), naturally, we learn that a group of orphaned children were evacuated to the house in the 40s, to be cared for by a religious crackpot called Augustus Theophilus Cribben (yep, he was always going to turn out well) and his equally unstable sister Magda. Bad things happened, in graphic detail, and now the house is filled with the tormented spirits of the children and bonkers Augie himself. A medium (female, sympathetic) and a paranormal investigator (male, dodgy) also join in the exposition, so that the final two hundred pages drag on for HOURS. Not even a fight in the cellar, with the villain turning into Rasputin and refusing to die, until the decomposing corpse of his first victim pushes him down a well, and then old Augustus returning for an encore, could save the story for me by that point.

I have read that James Herbert's other books are better, and hopefully shorter, so I won't give up on him just yet, but that was not a promising start! (Helpful hint: watch the TV series instead. Or the Poltergeist trilogy, which is the same sort of thing.) ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Dec 4, 2019 |
Excellent rendition of a ghost story. This would be my example of textbook how to do it. Some of the horrific elements were excessively so I felt, but on the whole, an amazing book. ( )
  slmr4242 | Oct 16, 2019 |
bloated, overlong, and inelegantly written. i'd never read any James Herbert before and after this i doubt i'll read any others. i am curious to know if the tv series was any better. ( )
  bunnyhero | Oct 11, 2019 |
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 |
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Epigraph
'From the darkness let the innocent speak so that the guilty may know their shame'
ANON
'The evil that men do lives after them...'
SHAKESPEARE
'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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