For about three quarters of this book I was swept up and admiring Aycliffe's ability to layer on unsettling, heart-pounding unease, in this story of a disappeared child. This was well-crafted, even M.R. Jamesian in its ability to unsettle and disturb the reader. Like some other reviewers I was unable to read this at night, settling for daylight hours only.
The story of a missing and then murdered child, and the investigation by her parents, particularly her father, and the sense of palpable, creeping, ghostly malevolent evil reminded me increasingly of The Omen [DVD] [1976
], particularly when some rather gruesome and visceral shocks began to occur.
However, what began well and was sustained and intensifying, with the child's parents and other investigators getting chillingly increasingly disturbed by what they were begin to unravel, then began to descend, quickly and in an overdone fashion into schlocky and savagely described horror; in fact, the story changed genres. For the most part, the book had felt 'realistic' in the way that the best ghost writers do, but the final Liddley unravelling, and the segment with Charles' sister felt gratuitous, slasher horror fest. Unfortunately the book then unravelled backwards for me, with the character of Laura, in particular, becoming less and less plausible, as aspects of her behaviour and interior landscape, slightly strange at times as I read, being revealed as rather crass plot devices.
The bulk of the book was product of a much more psychologically clever and restrained imagination than the last section, which felt implausible, rushed, and curiously, as if it had run out of steam, as the various carefully teased out threads were suddenly covered in buckets of overdone gore.