Title: The Secret of Cold Hill
Author: Peter James
Published: September 24th 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
The Secret of Cold Hill by Peter James is the spine-chilling follow-up to The House on Cold Hill. Now a smash-hit stage play.
Cold Hill House has been razed to the ground by fire, replaced with a development of ultra-modern homes. Gone with the flames are the violent memories of the house’s history, and a new era has begun.
Although much of Cold Hill Park is still a construction site, the first two families move into their new houses. For Jason and Emily Danes, this is their forever home, and for Maurice and Claudette Penze-Weedell, it’s the perfect place to live out retirement. Despite the ever present rumble of cement mixers and diggers, Cold Hill Park appears to be the ideal place to live. But looks are deceptive and it’s only a matter of days before both couples start to feel they are not alone in their new homes.
There is one thing that never appears in the estate agent brochures: nobody has ever survived
beyond forty in Cold Hill House and no one has ever truly left …
‘You cannot bury evil’ states the spine tingling front cover tagline of bestselling British author Peter James’ brand new novel, The Secret of Cold Hill. Following on from his 2015 release, The House on Cold Hill, which was recently made into a theatre production, the second book in the Cold Hill series is creepy, intense, unpredictable and consuming.
Cold Hill House perished in a raging fire many years ago. Since this tragedy, a new development has popped up to replace the old site. Top of the range luxurious homes have been erected on this historic site, saying goodbye to the old and introducing new technology friendly houses. When The Secret of Cold Hill opens, an artist and his wife are one of the first residents to move into this revered estate. The couple are very excited to have a new place to call home. They are joined by another couple, Maurice and Claudette. These retirees are determined to make their Cold Hill Park home a relaxing abode to live out their twilight years. However, it doesn’t take long before they realise that their dream home has become a place of nightmares. When things go bump in the night, strange apparitions materialise, and a tragic history continues to haunt this locale, they get much more than bargained for. This lucrative piece of real estate soon becomes an inescapable horror story.
Initially, I didn’t cotton on to the fact that The Secret of Cold Hill is the sequel and follow on novel to The House on Cold Hill, which Peter James penned back in 2015. Despite the fact that I had no prior experience with the first book, I found The Secret of Cold Hill very easy to read. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, but I am going to make a big effort to source The House on Cold Hill. I am also intrigued by the theatre production of this book too!
From page one Peter James is able to plunge the reader deep into his spooky scene. There is a strong sense of foreboding surrounding this novel from the onset. We know that something sinister is at work very early on in the piece. I was never scared and my hair didn’t stand on end, but I was filled with an utter sense of dread, as well as speculation. James performs extremely well in this aspect of the novel. James successfully builds a strong sense of puzzlement, bewilderment and he sets the stakes to a high bar. This was amplified further by the fact that the location base for this book is set in familiar grounds for me. I used to reside in the same area as Cold Hill and there is even a reference to my old school, which had me smiling in recognition!
The characters that populate The Secret of Cold Hill are compelling. Readers will most probably find the lead couple, Jason and Emily, very agreeable and relatable. I genuinely wanted this couple to conquer the feat of Cold Hill Park! On the other hand, I had plenty of contempt for the other couple of the tale, the Penze-Weedell’s. However, I think we have all had cringe worthy neighbours in our lives at some point in time that we wish to avoid at all costs! James utilises a good dose of humour to this couple, which offsets the darkness of this spine tingling tale.
Classic haunted house characteristics appear during the course of the novel, from ghostly apparitions that disappear as soon as they appear, to sudden temperature drops, stomping feet, cursed voices and unexplained potent aromas add to the issues faced by the new residents of Cold Hill Park. I appreciated the insertion of newspaper reports and even gravestone inscriptions included within the narrative. These extra flourishes add further conjecture to the unfolding tale.
The Secret of Cold Hill is now the third book I have read recently that fuses old world gothic history with the contemporary. There is also a strong slant towards technology in this book, as the houses populated by the families of this novel all contain highly modernised home systems that are automated and work on voice recognition. Of course we know that technology is not immune to malfunctions, which occurs in The Secret of Cold Hill, but we do question if something more malevolent is at work.
There is a strong strand of unpredictability that follows The Secret of Cold Hill from the start. The short and highly engrossing chapters are populated by events that follow a tight time frame. The novel opens on 20th October and then wraps up on the 27th December. There is an additional closing chapter based in April 2020, which served to answer a few questions I had about the book, but it also posed a few more! I do hope Peter James is able to extend upon these questions in a possible future issue, or issues of this engrossing series.
The Secret of Cold Hill by Peter James was published on 24th September 2019 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Secret of Cold Hill, Peter James, visit here.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website please visit here.