Book Review

Haverscroft by S. A. Harris


I loved the sound of Haverscroft as soon as I heard about it, and just had to grab a copy when it was published earlier this year.

Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realise, Haverscroft s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?

Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.

Haverscroft is the story of Kate and her family, who move from London to a small village to take on the impressive sounding Haverscroft House.  It’s clear from the beginning that Kate isn’t entirely keen on the move, but her husband, Mark, fell in love with the place, and she agreed in order to keep the peace, and to keep the family together.  Except that Mark isn’t there during the week, as he still works in London, leaving Kate and the children behind on their own…  I love the way in which the atmosphere is set from the very first page of this novel.  Kate tries to convince you that she’s happy in the old house, and that the doors sometimes don’t open due to old, temperamental locking mechanisms, that the lights go out because of the old wiring, and that the noises she and the children hear are just the sounds of an old house settling.  And while this may all sound plausible, it’s enough to make both Kate and the reader wonder if there’s something other going on.

Harris does characterisation brilliantly and with seemingly just a few lines gives a very well-rounded view of those involved in this tale.  Kate is clearly a bit of a worrier, and someone who has suffered some kind of breakdown quite recently.  Her husband, and to a lesser extent her children, tiptoe around her, cautious of her feelings and of causing her undue stress.  There are also references to the medicine that she’s no longer taking, which of course brings into question her reliability as a narrator.  There are times when it’s easy to believe that she is fine and capable, and others where the reader questions what they’re being told, and it’s interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the novel.

Mark’s treatment of Kate is also interesting.  He treats her with kid gloves, going over the top in his apparent desire not to distress Kate in any way, and it soon becomes apparent that he is hiding something from her.  This poses another question for the reader – is his behaviour driven by his concern for her wellbeing, or is he using her recent illness as an excuse for more dastardly goings on?  I love a character that makes you question their motives in this way, and I genuinely didn’t know what to make of Mark at times.  His concern seems so genuine, and yet there’s enough evidence to the contrary to make you question his behaviour.  This doesn’t help Kate at all, of course, as being far from stupid, she also questions his actions and attitude.

Haverscroft is a wonderfully creepy story, and Haverscroft House itself is a magnificent testament to Gothic fiction.  There are some genuinely creepy moments in this novel, and it’s one that I’d suggest reading with the lights on…  Recommended for fans of creepy tales and domestic noir.

Haverscroft was published in May by Salt Publishing and is available to buy now in paperback and digital formats.  If you do plan to pick up a copy, please do so directly from if you can.  As an independent publisher, it helps them out a great deal 🙂

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