What’s it all about?:
‘The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.’
Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.
Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.
Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .
‘Frost Hollow Hall’ is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.
What did I think?:
Emma Carroll’s debut novel came highly recommended to me by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and after reading the beautiful synopsis, I was certain I was going to enjoy it. Well – I did more than that, in fact I LOVED it. Set in the 1800’s the author transports us to a world rich in detail, with a protagonist that will instantly win your heart and tells a story that will both chill and excite in equal measure. It begins in a cold February where our heroine Tilly Higgins and her friend Will Potter are on their way to the big house on the estate, Frost Hollow Hall where ten years ago, a horrifying tragedy occurred and led to the heir, a young boy called Kit Barrington, drowning as he fell through the ice while skating there. Now Tilly has been dared by Will to skate on that very same ice and she is not the kind of girl to shy away at a dare, especially from Will who half the girls in the village are in love with.
Then something terrible and wonderful happens. The ice breaks and Tilly soon slips through and it seems certain she too will succumb to its icy depths until a hazy figure appears to her underneath the ice and pushes her back up. This boy also appears to her in her dreams and she understands it to be the spirit of Kit Barrington who seems desperate for her to uncover the secrets behind his death. Compassionate Tilly knows she has to help him and despite the problems in her own family she manages to get a post as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. With the help of Will, she starts to uncover the mysteries at the big house that Kit appears to be pushing her to reveal. There are certainly odd goings-on afoot, with poltergeist pottery that crashes around by itself, terrified staff, a housekeeper that seems to know a lot more than she is letting on, seances and Lady Barrington herself, wild with grief. Secrets are unearthed that will rock Tilly’s world indefinitely and teach her a whole lot about family, friendship, love, absolution, letting go and moving on.
This is such a beautiful book and a superior piece of writing that I will be eternally grateful that I’ve read it. The characters are all phenomenal and we see the growth of every single one throughout the novel but I had a special soft spot for Tilly, a normal, independent and loving girl that although she has problems of her own delights in being able to help other people. I also enjoyed her relationship with Will and how it developed through the novel and even Will himself becomes a much bigger person than what he first appeared to be directly through his experiences with Tilly. For anyone who is not sure about YA, please don’t let the genre put you off – this is a fantastic ghostly story that can be read and enjoyed by a wide variety of ages and, of course, it’s a perfect tale for this time of year. Curl up with Frost Hollow Hall, a blanket, a cup of tea (or other tipple!) and be prepared to be transported into a Victorian masterpiece that will grip you until the final page.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):