“The House on Cold Hill” by Peter James | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 3/5 | Genre – Horror

When it comes to books like this I’m always fairly dubious to read them, mainly as I know there are always a lot of “trash” horror books, but also because I’m a massive whimp and easily scared. However, when it came to reading this one, I had the ability to power through having read it a couple years back.

After discussing the book once again with a friend of mine, I felt it was time to give it another read in the hopes of getting a better outlook on it, having not found it too favourable the first time round. So here is what I thought…

Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade. But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement.

Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house. As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them . . . (synopsis from Goodreads)

What did I think?

It had been a while since I last read this book so I was still able to read through the book without anticipating any particular events. Although, its probably worth noting I have a pretty good memory for plots of books so to me that says this book just wasn’t very memorable. I pressed on reading though, finding the book rather clunky in parts, it felt very much like everything needed explaining even down to the type of alcohol the characters were drinking.

I will say, where this book works is its fear factor. It didn’t take long before this book had me freaking out slightly. From the moment the hauntings start I was getting goosebumps, as if I was being haunted myself. Of course, it doesn’t say a lot about the writing of these hauntings, I’m just very easily spooked. When it came to the ghost though, I was less interested in the actual ghost, more interested in the happenings around the house. Thats where the horror falls flat for me, there is always hints of the malevolent spirit yet it always feels like just the house attaching them.

Lord above, then there is the decision of the main character. Of course, the horror genre is built on poor decision making, but some of them made in this book just don’t make any sense. The context behind these decisions just aren’t plausible enough, I just found myself yelling for them to just leave the house.

Top favourite moment…

  • Actually creepy: with the whole book based around strange events going on in the house, it was very easy to imagine the strange goings on actually happening. A lot of them could easily be explained away as issues with a very old house, when, as a reader, you know that its something more sinister.


I guess this book is alright if you want a nice easy horror book to read. It was pretty scary in parts, to the point where I wasn’t able to read the book at night time. It had all the typical conventions of a horror book; spooky house, sinister ghost, and poor decision making on the characters part.

However, none of it actually particularly entertained me as a decent book. The whole concept of what was happening to the Harcourt family seemed very tenuous and uncertain. Even the ending (which I won’t spoil) seemed very rushed.


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