This is a reivew of “The Carrow Haunt” by Darcy Coates.
Remy is a tour guide for the notoriously haunted Carrow House. When she is asked to host seven people at the house for a week-long investigation into the supernatural phenomena, she eagerly takes the job. At first all goes well, but when a terrible storm rolls in and cuts off their contact with the outside world, things start to go scarily wrong. Doors opening and slamming shut, cameras being tampered with, floors giving away under them, and walls starting to blled. By the time one of them is found dead, it is far too late to escape and they will have to contend with the master of Carrow House himself.
The setting was perfect for a story about a haunted house. A mansion out on a small peninsula, the only road to it going over a bridge without railing. The winter season setting in along with winter storms that last far too long, that are far too powerful. The waves crashing all the way up to the windows of the mansion, and washing across the bridge, making it impossible to cross.
The characters are well defined, and easy to differentiate. The female characters especially are strong. Even Lucille is a strong character despite her moaning and bitching. April was spoiled and a bit silly, but not annoying. Remy was the defacto leader because of her knowlege, which was logical. Marjorie has a very strong personality that is fitting of a woman her age and experience.
Out of the men, Bernard was the most interesting because he didn’t say as much. His actions spoke more, and that was well written. Mike had a good reason for why he set the entire thing up, but his reason for asking Remy to lead the group was a bit weak. Piers was a bright ball of sunshine that was needed in this setting. Taj was perhaps the least interesting of them all for a very long time, but he got his moment of glory when he saved them all.
The house’s story and the story of Edgar Porter was well thought out and obviously carefully planned. Porter was a properly frightening ghost to have as an enemy, and his victims were the cause of quite a few jump scares.
Unfortunately, while not obvious at first look, there are some bad parts to this book.
Remy was a bit confusing. She knew all the details about the supernatural, but apparently had little to no power herself. It is one thing to read about things, but another to be quite this knowledgeable. Marjorie’s personality had big changes occasionally, too willing to verbally attack other people. It didn’t quite fit.
There wasn’t actually a lot of scary things in the book. There were a few creepy jump scares when the ghosts appeared, but generally speaking the ghosts didn’t do much. They came, they saw, they maybe moved a door, then they disappeared again. The ghosts were almost benign.
The ending of the book in general seemed more like the average action movie rather than the horrifying end to a horror story. Mixing in a possible living/mortal enemy and an ancient cult trying to take advantage of spiritual energy almost made it a caricature. Every time a supernatural horror story has to bring in even a hint of a mortal killer, it proves that the story isn’t strong enough.
Then came the revelation that the people who had died so far weren’t, in fact, dead but merely frozen into a coma. Edgar Porter had his moment to monologue like a true Hollywood villain. It was all finished with the idea how to defeat the ghost of Edgar Porter and Carrow House being a simple fire fanned on by the ghosts of the victims. Something that was obviously the solution early on in the story.
I also found a couple of spelling mistakes and name mixups. That coupled with everything, just eradicated any and all supernatural creepiness that had remained by this point.
All in all, it was an okay book, but in the end I was left with a feeling of nothing.
Read it if you like horror stories, but it won’t leave any lasting impression.