Title: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Author: Amy Rae Durreson
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Genre(s): Thriller, Ghost Story, Horror Fiction
Page Count: 338
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A workaholic teacher and a cranky blacksmith investigate a haunted orphanage in the remote Scottish Borders. What they find together might help them heal the wounds of their pasts… if they survive.
When the charity Leon works for inherits the orphanage, he travels north to see if the site is suitable for a new school. But Vainguard is a place of dark secrets, and Leon unearths a mystery about four children who died there in 1944—a tragic tale with an uncanny connection to the death of Leon’s parents.
Still bitter and guilt-ridden over his daughter’s death, farrier Niall joins Leon in uncovering Vainguard’s cruel history, including not just abuse but a tale about a vengeful spirit preying on local children. As the orphanage’s disturbing past comes to light, another child goes missing.
Niall and Leon know they don’t have long before the child falls victim to a legend straight from the Borders’ blood-soaked past.
Leon, in his middle thirties, lost his parents in a traumatizing car accident when he was six, has lived in several foster homes, and was finally brought up in a charity institution specialized in educating kids with anger management issues and other behavioural problems. He works now as a teacher for the very same institution together with his foster father Felix, who runs it. Both hope to open a sub-branch for they have too little place for too many candidates. It looks therefore like a lucky strike when an old acquaintance of Felix’s, Martyn Armstrong, bequeaths an old manor in Cumbria to the institution upon his death. Summer holidays have started, so Leon accepts to drive up to the Scottish Borders to handle the paperwork and check out if the premises could be transformed into a boarding school. Things seem to look promising—the manor is, in fact, a former orphanage.
What Leon hasn’t reckoned with is his antagonistic encounter with the smoulderingly handsome, rugged, but surly blacksmith Niall, who lives and works in a lodge on site. What he hasn’t reckoned with, either, is that the place is too creepy for words. It looks and feels like eerie old legends come true, as if lived in by hostile ghosts. As if that weren’t enough, Leon starts to hear ghostly riders in the middle of the night. And he realizes that the accident that has cost his parents their lives took place in close vicinity to the manor. Mere happenstance, then, that he’s come back to this of all places? Mere happenstance that Niall seems to suffer from a painful past, too—he’s lost his daughter from a previous marriage in another car accident a couple of years ago? Mere happenstance that Martyn Armstrong seems to have been very interested in the disappearance and death of several kids over the last decades? Things get creepier and creepier, until… a young boy disappears. Leon and Niall, who have already started to build a friendlier relationship, start to investigate and discover not only that they’re drawn one to the other, but also that some legends are more than just legends. Unfortunately, it’s the ghoulish ones…
This book was a real treat, from page 1 to page 338. Exactly what the word “unputdownable” implies. I didn’t know the author, Amy Rae Durreson, before, but she’s now on my TBR. What a ride! The book is well-paced, revealing its eerie plot small bit by small bit, and had me on an emotional roller-coaster. Leon and Niall are both really cute, endearing characters, two full-blown adults out of real life, with real-life problems the author depicts with perfect psychological insight. Even the secondary characters, including the most unimportant ones, have that same real-life look and feel. Durreson certainly knows how to create likeable, authentic personae; she certainly knows how to write; she certainly knows how to build tension, how to satisfyingly describe the growing chemistry between two guys, how to give you goose-pumps, how to make you shiver with fright, how to fill you with horror. All that without the slightest hint of artificiality or superficiality. Her descriptions of the Border lands are awesome; she makes you smell the heather and moss, she makes you feel the summer heat and the chillness of a rainy night. You don’t believe in ghosts, you don’t do ghost stories? Read this, and you’ll change your mind.
What more can I say? It would simply be more praise. Very little typos (like, two or three, which goes to show it IS possible to publish books that are well proofread and edited), no real sex scenes but a lot of hot snogging and kissing, and, cherry on the cake, an exceedingly satisfying, sigh-inducing HEA… I loved this book. It’s one of those reads where you’re utterly disappointed when you reach the last page—not because the book should be longer or leaves you wanting, but because you don’t want to step out of the unique universe the author has created. I don’t say this very often, but I’d gladly give more then 5 stars.
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