Gallows Hill: A Novel by Darcy Coates

Gallows Hill: A Novel by Darcy Coates

If you love horror movies and gothic horror this is a book for you. Gallows Hill reads like an independent, low-budget horror film that successfully builds tension out of nothing but silences and thoughts that teeter on the edge of madness.

The story begins with Margot at the funeral of her parents whom she’s never met. And no, she’s not adopted. That’s the first mystery. The rest is classic haunted house and horror flick stuff. Very gothic horror; the scares are all Margot’s. The story is told from her perspective, though in 3rd person not first. The readers are silent witnesses, like ghosts trailing her in her every move, watching her. Nothing is left out of the reader’s sight; chapters pick up exactly where they’ve left off. Every detail is accessible to the reader.

Coates evokes a proper sense of dread with well-chosen words; her descriptions are succinct and sparse, giving the images that are spun in the mind an appropriate filter of blue-grey darkness. There’s always a sense that Margot could escape this, that this is just all in her mind, and real life is just beyond the gate, down the road, in the town nearby. But the reader becomes quickly acquainted with Margot and knows that that’s not possible; like Margot, we are compelled to read on to discover the history of her, her family, this place.

The story unfolds in a matter of days. Most of the events take place at Gallows Hill and the house; it is the hill on which the house is built, the hill in which the cellars of the winery were dug. She inherits Gallows Hill, a winery and an estate that has belonged to her family for hundreds of years. That’s the second mystery; the people who work and live on the estate are a strange cast. Even the townsfolk are an odd bunch. Their interactions with the estate and the land will compel the reader to read on: What happens after dark? Why does the land need a blessing? The reasons given are mundane and reasonable; there’s a normal explanation for everything, but the reader — like Margot — will find them unsatisfactory.

The ending is satisfying. It is explosive and a tad Hollywood-esque. But it does answer every question and its brings the story to a complete and organic close. You’ll close the book feeling like Margot got what she needed. A really great, creepy Halloween read!

See my other Halloween Horror reviews here: The Ghosts That Haunt Me: Memories of a Homicide Detective by Steve Ryan, A Fig For All The Devils: A Novel by C.S. Fritz, Anybody Home? A Novel by Michael J. Seidlinger – More coming soon!

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