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The Secret of Crickley Hall Book Review

Updated on June 14, 2020

About the book

  • Author: James Herbert
  • Published: 2006
  • Publisher:Macmillan
  • Pages: 633

The Book

Gabe and Eve Caleigh are distraught after their son, Cam, mysteriously disappears. So when Gabe gets a short term job project in the small Devonshire village of Hollow Bay, he thinks it's a good idea to take Eve and their 2 daughters, Loren and Cally there for a while. He thinks the break will do them good and for Eve to come to terms with everything that has happened. They find a large, gothic style house to rent. Little do they know that Crickley Hall has a past, and not a good one. Their dog, Chester, seems to get a sense of what it's like right from the start. And as anyone who has had a dog, if a dog doesn't like something or someone, then you know that something is wrong.

Back during World War 2, Crickley Hall was an orphanage that housed 11 orphans that were evacuated there for safely. The house was run by brother and sister Augustus and Magda Criben. To the local community, and especially the Vicar at the Church, they were fine, upstanding members of the community. But behind closed doors, things are very, very different. The children are tormented by the Criben siblings in every aspect of their lives. All but one of the children were killed, assumed drowned in the big flood that ravaged the town. The flood is one of the stories that keeps popping up in the book as in the cellar of Crickley House is a well, and the river can be heard gushing underneath.

There are really 2 stories taking place in this book really. You've got the flood that happened, and also the ghosts that still haunt Crickley House. Augusts Cribens may have also died at the time, but his tormented spirit still has a hold on anyone that lives in Crickley Hall. Swish-twack. This is what can often be heard by the the Caleigh family. Augustus used his cane often. And with the children having died the way they did, their souls aren't at rest so they also haunt the home.

Although Magda, still lives on in a residential home for the elderly, she does not give any secrets away. Gabe decides to visit her one day to shed some light on Crickley Hall. But she just sit there - staring into space. The staff inform him that since she came into the home, she has not muttered 1 word to either them or the other residents. Although she is quite capable of doing so.

Apart from all this going on, there is also the story of Gabe and Eve suffering with the disappearance of their son, Cam. All this will come to a conclusion in the book.

My thoughts

This is the first time I have read one of James Herbert's books, but I really enjoyed it. It's been a while since I read a horror story. What I liked about this book is that the chapters are not too long, so you can easily read a chapter, and come back to the book later.

The plot was really good. I thought the author had a good way of setting the scene so you get an idea of what's going on and who the people are. He gave a good description of how the family looked, so you get a mental image of how they look in your mind. Not only that, but also their personalities. You get a good sense of how the family interacted with each other. James Herbert really had a way of describing Crickley Hall and how it's gothic architecture added to the dark ghostly beings that resided in it. Of course, with it being a horror story, it was constantly raining, which added to the dark storyline.

I found it genuinely scary in some parts. Especially the parts with Augustus Criben and his sister Magda. You can certainly understand why the place is haunted and why nobody ever stays that long. James is really good at describing the events that have taken place in the past. Not only that, but he's good at telling the reader the underlying raw fear that the children suffered under the hands of Augustus and Magda, and also how the current family are suffering by living there.

I really did enjoy this book. I'll definitely purchase more of his books to read. This book left me on the edge of my seat, and kept me wanting to turn the page to see what happens next. If horror is your cup of tea, then I would recommend this book.

The Secrets of Crickley Hall book

© 2020 Louise Powles


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