- The Coffin Path.
- Katherine Clements.
- 384 pages.
- Ghost Stories / Gothic / Historical / Horror / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.
Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.
When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and through bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.
When it comes through your door
Unless you just want some more
I think you better call (ghostbusters)
Who ya gonna call? (ghostbusters)
Who ya gonna call? (ghostbusters)
Let’s be honest, it would have been remiss of me not to have used the Ghostbusters theme in a review for a ghost story! 👻👻👻
The Coffin Path is a ghost story set in the 17th century and takes place within the confines of Scarcross Hall an isolated, remote and rundown house and sheep farm located up on the wild, untamed and harsh Yorkshire Moors.
Scarcross Hall is owned by Bartram Booth, he is the master of the house and lives there along with his daughter Mercy and their housekeeper Agnes (though Agnes is much more than just the housekeeper, she is like part of their family and her life is intertwined with that of the Booth’s).
Bartram is getting on in years and while he is still master of the house it is in name only and it is now left to Mercy to oversee the sheep farming. Each season men come looking for work to help with the sheep farming, this season, a mysterious stranger, Ellis Ferreby appears from on the moors seeking employment as a shepherd.
One coin marks the first to go,A second bodes the fall,The third will seal a sinner’s fate,The Devil take them all.
At around the same time as the arrival of Ferreby up on the moors Mercy feels a malevolent presence watching her and three golden coins that hold ominous portents are found to be missing from Scarcross Hall.
The ‘coffin path‘ of the book’s title denotes the pathway that leads from Scarcross Hall to the church in the nearby village and it is the only way to reach the Hall itself. Yes, for those of you wondering Scarcross Hall has a cursed history which ties into ‘the coffin path‘ name but if you want to know more then you will have to read the book to find out what it is.
For the most part, The Coffin Path is told from the perspective of Mercy Booth. Though, the narration does switch at times to focus on the stranger who has arrived looking for work at Scarcross Hall, Ellis Ferreby.
The chapters from Mercy’s point of view are told in the first person whilst the chapters from Ferreby’s point of view are told from the third person perspective. I have to admit that the change in switching from one style to the other was at first slightly jarring but it works well and helps to highlight the fact that The Coffin Path is very much Mercy’s story.
I found Mercy to be an engaging character who is strong, determined and fiercely passionate about her independence and Scarcross Hall. Ellis Ferreby is also an intriguing character. A wanderer and stellar shepherd you know that he is keeping secrets and struggling with his past and you are awaiting those secrets to be revealed so that we can find out what his true intentions are.
In a book like The Coffin Path for me, the setting is just as important to the story being told as the characters and the events that transpire and I felt that the balance between the three was spot on. With Scarcross Hall and the surrounding moors Clements succeeds in creating a desolate and lonely location that is evocatively described and transports you back to when the story takes place. Her setting is also filled with a dark and gothic imagery that fully incorporates and depicts the harshness, poverty, beliefs and superstitions of the time.
Clements handles the supernatural/ghost aspect of the story really well. It’s definitely not a case of Casper the friendly ghost and the supernatural occurrences, disturbances and goings-on that take place are chilling and menacing. Nothing that happens in The Coffin Path is ever surreal, silly or over the top, you don’t have to suspend your disbelief and Clements allows you, the reader and your imagination the chance to play its part too (one bit in particular springs to mind that you are left to come to your own conclusion over). And, let’s be honest, we’ve all heard strange noises and things that go bump in the night.
I feel the need to mention that there are a couple of scenes involving animals that some readers might find unsettling. But, they haven’t been added merely for the shock value, they aren’t glorified and they add to the story that Clements is telling.
The Coffin Path is a haunting slow burn of a ghost story that is filled with secrets and a creeping sense of unease and trepidation throughout its length as you know that things are only going to escalate and get worse for Mercy and Scarcross Hall.
Clements writing is very atmospheric and eerie. She gives her tale plenty of time to build, ramping up the tension and allowing it the opportunity to really get under your skin which combined with her sublime storytelling weaves (or should that be knits, you know, sheep farming, sheep, wool, knitting) a thoroughly creepy and brooding read.
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