What is it with Helen Grant and her fondness for the gruesome? There are books you are best to save for daylight reading, and this new one of hers, Wish me Dead, I would probably not get out to read if I was home alone. At least not if I knew what horrors awaited me. If you don’t; then well, it’s too late, isn’t it?
Despite ‘me’ turning up as early as the third line of chapter one, it’s not us witches who are scary as much as are rumours, superstition and plain ordinary people. As far as I understand, Helen stumbled across loads of old tales when she lived in Bad Münstereifel, and it seems like this little German town can supply endless horror stories for her keyboard.
That’s what adds to the scariness; this business of romantic looking old town with pretty houses and flowers and cakes and even sunshine. Can you really hex people and make them fall down dead?
It seems that Steffi can, despite not being a witch. She and her friends go to an old witch’s house, and for fun they decide to hex people. An early ‘success’ means they continue and go deeper and deeper into unpleasant thoughts. Can their friendship survive? In fact, can people around them survive?
I had more than one theory as to who ‘did it’. There were several red herrings, including one that was very red indeed. But I also sensed something about the real one. Takes a real witch to recognise a fake one, I suppose.
In amidst the horror we are treated to so much German cake and bread that I was halfway on the plane to go and sample some. And having recently encountered German blinds for the first time, I was pleased to realise that I knew precisely what Steffi does when she closes all the blinds as she is worrying about being alone in the house…
It’s great that Helen feels she can set her novels somewhere foreign, and better still that she intersperses her English story with enough ‘Scheisse’ to keep us going very nicely. The German flavour is what makes the story. That, and the gory horror.
I won’t be taking a walk in the woods for some time.