Book Review

Recent Reads: See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles and Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll.

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Walker Books.
SeeYouAtHarrysTwelve-year-old Fern feels invisible.

Her dad is preoccupied with the family restaurant. Her mom is constantly going off to meditate. And then there’s Charlie: the “surprise” baby, and the centre of everything.

But when their lives are suddenly turned upside down, Fern feels responsible for the devastating even that wrenches the family apart.

Things will never be the same, but can Fern do anything to make them better?

This book broke my heart into little, tiny pieces. The blurb suggested it was going to be an emotional read and I’m known for crying easily, but I still did not expect to spend quite so much of the book ugly crying!

There’s not a huge amount I can say about the plot for fear of spoiling the read. It’s believable and realistic, probably at times all too much. I found I was quickly drawn into the lives of the characters, this only meant that the emotional aspect of the book resonated all the more strongly.

There was a lot to love about this book, it tells its story beautifully and nothing feels shoe-horned in for impact. I loved the fact the children in Fern’s family were all named after characters in books – that’s parenting done properly! There are some really well done sub-plots, every character gets their rightful share of the attention.

I can’t say that this is a book I will revisit often, I’m not made of strong enough stuff for that. But it is one I will most definitely be re-reading, it’s got so much I want to appreciate again.

Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll. Faber & Faber.
FrostHollowHallThe gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. And they were very definitely shut.

In the middle of a frozen lake, a girl is skating. She’s not supposed to be here. No one is. Not since Kit Barrington drowned at Frost Hollow Hall ten years ago. But the dead don’t scare Tilly Higgins.

The ice is thin. It cracks. Suddenly she’s under the water, drowning. Near death, a strange spirit appears to her, a boy so beautiful Tilly’s sure he’s an angel. But he’s a ghost. A very troubled ghost. And he desperately needs her help…

I love a good ghost story, and this is a really good one. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric, wintery read – it completely lives up to its gorgeous cover.

The book is set in the winter of 1881, it’s described in such a way that you feel like you’re really there. Much of the book takes place in and around Frost Hollow Hall, the recent successes of TV shows such as Downton Abbey and the Upstairs Downstairs revival make this a setting that is easy to imagine and understand.

The plot has two key aspects; Tilly’s personal progress and growth, and the story of the ghostly being desperate for her help. These are seamlessly blended together resulting in one enthralling and entirely satisfying read.

I loved Tilly as a main character, she’s a completely charming mixture of plucky and vulnerable – I know that she’d have really appealed to me when I was a younger reader too. I liked that the characters in the book aren’t all straightforward, but they’re given the time to reveal the secrets that make them the way they are.

This is a really beautiful read, perfect for the winter. It’s going to go straight onto my winter re-reads shelf ready for next year.

Whilst I received review copies of both books from their publishers all opinions expressed are my own.

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