Is it safe to come out now?

Chris Priestley’s books and I have travelled together more than most. Each time I get sent one of his books I think to myself that it looks wonderful and I must read it. And so far I’ve just not managed it, but I hope Chris is pleased by the large number of trips we have made together.

When The Dead of Winter arrived I was book-free, which is very unusual, so I grabbed it and began reading it right there and then, just to make up for earlier near misses. It doesn’t say when it’s set, but has the feel of Victorian Gothic. It is wonderful. It’s also a little bit scary. Actually.

The recently orphaned Michael has to go and spend Christmas with his new guardian, who lives in a large – and possibly haunted – house near Ely. Possibly haunted? What am I saying? Of course the place is haunted. Very haunted. And Michael is a sensitive boy (not sure what age he is) who feels these things, so he is uncomfortable from the word go.

The plot is superficially quite obvious, and there are few surprises, until… Well, if I told you there would be nothing to worry about.

This is a nice and short book, written in the style of classic authors such as Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe. In my aspie-ness I have to mention that there are a couple of overlooked inconsistencies, although only one of them matters.

You know exactly where the story is going, and it seems to follow a standard recipe until the day th……….

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