December Countdown, Day 11 : Mistletoe

December book meme (details here).  Mistletoe – A little bit of romance :


Mistletoe by Alison Littlewood #MistletoeBook

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour for Alison Littlewood’s Mistletoe.  I’ve posted below information about the other blogs taking part so try and take the opportunity to visit those and check out their thoughts on this latest gothic ghost story.

MistletoeMistletoe is my second book by Alison Littlewood, an author who excels at creating atmosphere and gothic creepiness.

This is a book set in the depth of winter, the countryside is cloaked in white and Christmas approaches.  It should be a time of cheer but for Leah Hamilton this is more an escape.  Leah has lost both her son and her husband and in a strange twist decides to buy the ‘fixer upper’ that her husband dreamed of acquiring.  Like she’s keeping a little piece of him alive by taking on a project that he was keen to undertake even though she wasn’t so enthusiastic at the time.  The farmhouse in question is very run down and no longer a going concern.  Parcels of land have been sold off over the years to neighbouring properties and the remaining house and buildings seem to be encumbered by a strange past that leaves the place not just neglected but also a little creepy.  Of course, a lot of the past history is unknown to Leah when she arrives and so she’s in for a number of surprises.

What I really enjoyed about this was the way the story was split.  Leah experiences a number of apparitions that gradually reveal the secrets of the house.  There is a dark history here and Leah is slowly sucked into events in a very scary way that threatens her own well-being.  She becomes so wrapped up in events that she shuns the neighbours, enclosing herself in a strange cocoon of mystery and darkness, almost becoming so involved that she begins to lose herself.

The writing is very evocative and this is truly the perfect time of year to read this book.  You can feel the cold and the weather, the looming clouds, the burgeoning snow and the short days all add to the atmosphere because they are particularly well written.  In fact, there are a few ghostly moments contained in these pages that I confess set my pulse racing and I couldn’t help admiring Leah for her steadfastness in the face of such scary goings-on.  If that was me, I would have been out of there in a New York minute but Leah felt a compulsion to see things though.

In terms of characters.  Well, Leah is the main pov but she shares time with her neighbours as well as inhabitants of the farm from a bygone era.  I really enjoyed the flashbacks and the little insights.  I think the inclusion of the neighbour’s son was a great addition to the story in fact with the flashbacks from the farm’s past, plus Leah’s memories of her son there are three young characters who help the story to progress in a strangely symmetrical way.

In terms of criticisms.  I think one of the characters was a little too easy to read which meant I second guessed what was going on from the storyline from the past – I wouldn’t say this spoiled the read for me but I think it could have been even more gripping with a little more ambiguity to keep me guessing.  I would also say that this was slightly different from what I was expecting.  It actually feels like a journey for the main character, one that she is maybe reluctantly pushed onto, but still a turning around of sorts.  I think going into this I was expecting an out and out ghost story but in fact I think the added element of Leah’s own personal tragedy coupled with the little rays of hope brought something additional to the read.

Overall, this was a very easy book to get along with.  It’s a good story and coupled with the excellent writing it makes for a real page turner.  Packed with angry ghosts and heartbreak it also manages to achieve a feeling of hope.  It gave me Bronte vibes in a way – the remote feeling of the farmhouse, the sweeping landscape, the loneliness of the central character and the brooding (Heathcliff like feel) of one of the ghosts from the past.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

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AuthorphotoAuthor Information:

Twitter : Ali__L
Genre : HorrorThriller
Alison Littlewood was raised in Penistone, South Yorkshire, and went on to attend the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (now Northumbria University). Originally she planned to study graphic design, but “missed the words too much” and switched to a joint English and History degree. She followed a career in marketing before developing her love of writing fiction.

Her first book, A Cold Season (2011), was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club and described as ‘perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.’

Alison’s latest novel is The Crow Garden (2017), is a tale of obsession set amidst Victorian asylums and séance rooms.

You can find her living with her partner Fergus in deepest Yorkshire, England, in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls. She loves exploring the hills and dales with her two hugely enthusiastic Dalmatians and has a penchant for books on folklore and weird history, Earl Grey tea and semicolons.
She is on Twitter as @Ali__L