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4.6 out of 5 stars132
4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is a beautifully written novel about a haunted manor in the English countryside. It is the story of a young, married woman, Jocelyn Grant, who inherits that country manor, Belheddon Hall, from her biological mother whom she never knew, as she had been put up for adoption a few months after her birth. Jocelyn, her husband, Luke, and her young son, Tom, happily move into the house, despite having heard warnings from the local townspeople that there is something quite odd about the house.
That happiness, however, soon turns to dread, as Jocelyn and her family begin to hear the laughter of young boys echoing throughout the house, as well as see physical manifestations of a knight in armour. Moreover, the scent of roses, at times, permeates the house, and someone or something keeps leaving white roses strewn throughout Belheddon Hall.
Jocelyn also begins to hear a ghostly voice calling out to someone named Katherine and finds herself being sensuously touched by someone other than her husband; someone whom she does not see, until it is too late. Her son, Tom, often sees an apparition, whom he refers to as the "tin man", and wakes up with bruises all over his body. Her fear is compounded when she realizes that no male heir has ever lived to inherit Belheddon Hall, and that the house has come down to her by strict, matrilineal descent.
Understanding the implications of her realization, and by now having two young sons about which to worry, she fights against the disbelief of her husband to combat the evil that lies at the root of the strange and frightening happenings at the Hall. How this is accomplished, and the story brought to its chilling climax, is what keeps the reader riveted to the very end. The book is absolutely gripping. Bravo!
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on 16 May 2011
I also bought this book on the strength of the good reviews it has vs the bad. I was really looking forward to a great story and some scares, but unfortunately they never came! I agree with some other comments Ive read that it is hard to identify with the characters as they are really inconsistant. As the characters are conversing, literally from one sentance to the next they can seem to have massive mood swings and go from talking reasonably to verbally attacking one another. This is particularly common in conversations between Joss and Lyn. This mood swinging also seems to happen in generally describing the characters actions. In one rather good scene (***spoiler***) Joss has left the house to run off alone along the dark coastal path in the middle of a storm to look for her missing husband - all the while youre expecting something bad to happen while shes frantically scouring the ditches with a torch and peeking over the cliffs at the boiling sea below....and then she looks up to see the lights of a ship in the distance....and for a moment is comforted by the thought of the people on board....WHAT!? Youre in the middle of a tense situation that any minute youre expecting her to find her prone husband lying in a ditch or her to fall off the cliff (if only!) and the rug is whipped out from under you by this namby pamby unrealistic change in emotion for the character in that situation and it completely flattens all the tension thats been built. Not only that; her husband just returns from his jaunt back to the house where no one bats an eyelid, joss returns having obviously not found him or anything else interesting on her pointless trail and just goes "Oh, there you are. What about ANOTHER cup of tea?" (well no, she doesnt, but she doesnt seem that bothered after her ordeal and yes they do seem to be constantly making tea as the author cant think of anything else they should be doing).

What else is also so annoying apart from all the tea slurping and back biting from Lyn (who really needed a slap) is everything mysterious that happens to Joss is repetitively blamed on her being tired and she should sleep. Even when Lyn, who is pretty much the most sceptical character in the whole book, even when she is in the house alone and finds the baby missing and eventually discovers him in an attic room locked with the key hidden above on a beam she is still determined to blame all the odd happenings on Joss being some sort of munchausens by proxy sufferer or her just being tired and imagining it all. It just didnt make sense. This, in my opinion, just seemed a bit like a book that has been written in little stages where perhaps the author lost track of their characters personalities and the flow of the book in general leading to a story that had all the opportunity of being scary but it never quite materialised. There were so many occasions where tension was built up and in the end fell flat on its face that there was no scary-satisfaction.

All in all I really dont see why the books got so many top notch reviews, but perhaps after reading them and buying the book myself maybe I was expecting too much and that biased things?
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on 14 May 2006
Erskine at her best, compulsive read, you won't be able to put it down, though at times your to scared to carry on reading! This book has it all, love, mystery, suspense, intrigue & so much more! You will be looking into dark corners & jumping at the slightest noise in the night, gets your imagination racing. The research she puts into her books is astounding, one of our top authors, if you have never read Barara Erskine you don't know what your missing! Give her a go, you won't regreat it.
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on 15 October 2000
After the other books by Ms Erskine, I did not think her writing could get any better but she has proven us wrong I thoroughly enjoyed House of Echoes from beginning to end. The story of Joss who inherits Belheddon Hall from a mother she never knew. All that Joss knows about the house is that two young brothers died there many years ago, but local townspeople whisper darkly of a curse on both the house and Joss's family. Joss and her husband and small son Tom move in, thinking the house is an end to all their troubles, but little do they know they are just about to begin, Joss start's to hear the laughter of two small boys and her son Tom start's too go into hysterics at the sight of a tin man. Intrigued from beginning to end this is a book that can be read again and again!
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on 22 March 2006
This book was the first i have read by Barbara Erskine and since then i have read all the others. It is absolutely excellant in every way, i was gripped from start to finish and was really sad when i had turned the last page and it was over, although i found it hard to turn the light off for fear that there was someone in the corner of my room.
Everyone should read this book.
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on 11 March 2006
This was such a fantastic book, the first i have ever read by this author and it certainly will not be the last!!!!!
This book had it all mystery, suspense, heart stopping, exitement and i could go on and on, i read this book in a day and a half as i couldnt put it down, that when you know its a good book!!!
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on 9 October 2008
Given the praise heaped upon it, I was looking forward to reading this book. Although the writing was undeniably good in places (there were several times when my skin did crawl, I admit that much), frankly I was immensely disappointed. The plot was hardly original and I had flashbacks to all those made-for-tv b-movies which are inoffensively cheesy but daft all the same.I found it impossible to engage with any of the main characters, in particular the immensely unlikeable Joss, who seemed to be permanently pregnant or breastfeeding or both. When the local psychic rides into town it bordered on pantomime. Although it was overall quite a pedestrian storyline, the quality of writing helped the climax build well towards the end, so it did start to improve just as the story began winding up. Overall, I would rate this as lightweight and likeable in the great tradition of good holiday reading, but no grand opus.
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on 15 February 2005
This is the first Barbara Erskine book I have read and it certainly wont be the last. I read this book from cover to cover in six hours as I couldnt put it down. It follows the story of Joss - adopted as a baby, who inherits an old mansion from her birth mother. There are so many legends and stories about the house - it's only a matter of time before Joss starts seeing and hearing things. This book is so spellbinding you wont want to put it down. i would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys supernatural/suspense/mystery books
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on 9 March 2011
Having read 5 star reviews on this book, I was surprised to find that I did not really like it very much.

The main characters, particularly Joss, never really grabbed me - she seemed to be very shallow and without any real substance, always carping at or about her sister, another unsympathetic, shallow character. In fact, all of the players come under this description.

The actual writing is not too good either and the remarks about Elizabeth Woodville, the queen of Edward IVth are just plain wrong - she was highly noted as being one of the most beautiful women of her time in Europe, so how did Erskine come up with her derogatory remarks about her looks? Woodville's character, unfortunately, did not match her face, but this was not referred to. Jacquetta, her mother WAS accused of witchcraft but that is a whole other story.

I slogged through this book as the ideas in the story are quite good but never really came to fruition, as is the case with some of Erskine's other writing.

All in all, not too good and a bit of a bore.
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on 25 June 2004
I began reading 'house of echoes' when I got into bed at midnight - and finished the last page at 7.30am the following morning. Though I had intended to read only a few chapters, the book captivated me and I couldn't put it down until I found out how the story ended. This was the first book I have read by Barbara Erskine, but it definately won't be the last!
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