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Book: “Gallows Hill” by Darcy Coates
Publishing Info: Poisoned Pen Press, September 2022
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.
Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound
Book Description: The Hull family has owned the Gallows Hill Winery for generations, living and working on the beautiful grounds where they grow their famous grapes. Until the night Mr. and Mrs. Hull settle down for the evening…and are dead by morning.
When their daughter, Margot, inherits the family business, she wants nothing to do with it. The winery is valued for its unparalleled produce, but it’s built on a field where hundreds of convicts were once hanged, and the locals whisper morbid rumors. They say the ground is cursed.
It’s been more than a decade since Margot last saw her childhood home. But now that she’s alone in the sprawling, dilapidated building, she begins to believe the curse is more than real―and that she may be the next victim of the house that never rests…
Review: Thank you to NetGalley for sending me and eARC of this novel and thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for sending me a print ARC of this novel!
I can’t believe that Halloween is almost here. While I love Halloween to death, I always get a bit melancholy around the end of October, as it’s my favorite time of year, and when Halloween happens, then it’s over. But fear not! Just because the season is ending, that doesn’t mean that the scares are going to stop on this blog, and let me tell you do I have a doozy of a haunted house story to close out the month with. “Gallows Hill” by Darcy Coates is the second of her novels that I have read, and I went into it with solid anticipation, as I enjoyed “From Below” a great deal. So going from ghost ship to haunted house seemed like a good transition, and hoo boy, I was NOT prepared for this book. This book was SCARY!
In terms of plot and cast of characters, I thought that “Gallows Hill” was well imagined and well presented. I liked Margot, the woman who left the winery as a child with no explanation from her parents for her exile, and who has now returned for the first time, an adult who is inheriting now that her parents have died strange and premature deaths. Coates takes her time in slowly revealing just what is going on with Gallows Hill and the winery, laying out puzzle pieces bit by bit and letting us investigate along with Margot. Everything that seems strange or farfetched has a well thought out explanation, and every character has a part to play. Margot herself is easy to like and easy to relate to, as she discovers what is going on at the same pace the reader does, and I thought that all the pieces came together well, with some solid surprises along with reveals that are perhaps obvious but still weighted with some mystery. Coates makes it easy to invest in every character, which makes the stakes all the higher when creepy things start to turn into the flat out horrifying. And the Gothic setting of an isolated winery with a new owner who has no idea what she is getting into, and what secrets the people around her are keeping from her, fits the sub genre so well while also being a bit unconventional, which was super satisfying for someone who loves a good Gothic horror story.
And let’s talk about scary. This book is SCARY. I absolutely found myself setting my Kindle down in the middle of one particularly scary moment, and told myself ‘I should probably put this down for the night’. But after I went to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, I crawled back into bed and picked it right back up. So obviously it’s also incredibly addictive. Coates really knows how to create a tense moment, and then to ratchet it up about ten times, and the grotesque imagery uneasy history of the horror points, and the isolated and suffocating setting of a country estate haunted by its history is a perfect horror combination. I am not going to go into specifics as it’s far more effective to be surprised. But holy cow, we absolutely get the sense of being stalked and hunted in this moment that I told myself I was walking away. But along with that, Coates doesn’t feel tempted to leave ambiguity open as the story progresses and comes to a close. The end is definitive, and I appreciate that in a time where sometimes horror stories feel a need to leave things open in an effort for a fear of the unknown. Which, fine, if done well. But there is something to be said about committing to a conclusion, and I love that Coates does that.
You can’t do much better than a classic haunted house tale during Halloween, and “Gallows Hill” is a great example of that. I really enjoyed this book and how freaky it was. Darcy Coates is officially a must read horror author for me now, which means I have a lot of back catalog to explore. And I can’t wait.
And wait, there’s more! Given that this is the end of Horrorpalooza 2022, I thought it would be fun to end with a special treat. So I am running a giveaway of a print ARC of this book, that also has Darcy Coates’s signature in the front (thanks again to Mandy Chahal for providing the book!)! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on November 3rd.
Enter The Giveaway HERE
And that is the end of Horrorpalooza 2022! I hope that everyone has a fun, safe, and spooky Halloween!
Rating 9: Scary, entertaining, and the perfect Halloween read. If you haven’t tried Darcy Coates yet, start with “Gallows Hill”.
“Gallows Hill” is included on the Goodreads list “2022 Gothic”.
One thought on “Kate’s Review & Giveaway: “Gallows Hill””
I don’t have a favorite yet, but after looking at all of the lists on Goodreads (2016-2022) it appears Gothic horror is making up the bulk of my TBR so I’m sure I’ll end up with a top five soon 🙂
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