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on 10 August 2004
I love Jonathan Aycliffe's writing (and also when he writes as Daniel Easterman) so I was delighted to learn of this new novel and it didn't disappoint. The story is set mainly during the Great War and focuses on a large house, Trevelyan Priors, based in Cornwall. When fifteen year old (and sorry but I couldn't find any typo's anywhere which confused his age - he was always 15 in 1917) Simon is sent to live with his relatives at Trevelyan Priors he soon learns that the house is filled with dark shadows and memories from the past.
I particularly enjoyed Aycliffe's writing in this book. Although the book wasn't his scariest (but certainly still had its moments) I still found it extremely enjoyable due to his intense and beautifully written descriptions relating to the book's setting. The vivid depiction of the swans in the opening chapter instantly created a tone of anticipation and unease ('They were Mute Swans, white swimmers by day, ghosts crossing the air by night') which continued throughout the book. He created an extremely evocative image of exactly how life was like in this house and surrounding environment at the beginning of the 20th Century.
My only slight criticism would be that I thought there were points within the story which were left incomplete - for example, I felt that more could have been done with the character of the marquis. Although told how evil he was there was no particular confrontation with him and he seemed to creep silently out of the story. And I also felt that the relevance of the summer garden was slightly exaggerated as I never found out why this location was meant to be so haunted and out of bounds.

I agree that nothing could ever surpass the brilliant 'Naomi's Room' and if you haven't read this I urge you to do so, as it is truly the most terrifying book I have ever read, but I still feel that this book is worthy of a read and enjoyable in its own right.
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2004
Having read other books by Jonathan Aycliffe I was looking forward to feeling my flesh creep! Sadly this didn't happen very much with this book.
The story is based in Cornwall during the First World War, with the main character "Simon" sent to live wih his Aunt and Uncle after the death of his father on the western front. Very soon, of course, everything is not as it seems and Simon is drawn to an abandoned but forbidden garden in the grounds of the house. The garden is supposed to be creepy, but I felt nothing of much significance happened here. In fact most of the "action" and mysterious deaths happened in other parts of the grounds and house itself.
There were also some contradictions in the writing. For example, in the first chapter the character "Tom" is aged 12 in 1915. Yet later in 1916 we are told Tom is now aged 15. Surely an editor should have picked this up!
Having said all this, the book did have its moments when "Aycliffe's" old form shone through, and I still found it enjoyable.
In my opinion....worth a look!
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on 12 June 2014
If you like ghost stores then you need to read Jonathan Aycliffe, brilliant writer and when he writes under the name of Daniel Easterman, although they are not ghost stories. Just an all round great author.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 8 December 2011
I read a few of Jonathan Aycliffe's books many years ago, and then lost track of any more of his books. I thoroughly enjoyed being terrified by them all those years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed being terrified by this one too.

The premise seems simple - a 15-year old boy who has lost his father in the first World War is sent by his mother to live with his uncle, aunt and cousins. Hopefully they can give him a secure and safe home life and upbringing. But it's not that long before things become strange - we are given a glimpse of this in the first part of the book where the boy, now an old man, has returned to the area of his uncle and aunt's house, and is obviously afraid of something there. We discover the story through his journal as a boy, letters of his relatives and his later journal entries. But what a story! Creepy doesn't begin to describe it.

Very entertaining, definitely disturbing, and highly recommended.
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on 31 July 2008
This is my favourite book by Mr Aycliffe though I'll admit I havent yet read Naomis Room which by all accounts seems to be a favourite amongst his fans. Not much point going into the plot but just to say how much i liked the characters and how believable they all are. Devil worshippers, ghosts,hidden rooms containing ancient manuscripts etc..Sex even!! There are plenty of the usual chills and i have to admit to having a lump in my throat at the ending. Much more than just a "horror" book i think.
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on 23 June 2015
Not a good book and i tried so hard to read all of it but i couldn't. I have read other Jonathan Aycliffe books and they are passable but this is the first time i couldn't finish one. A good book is one that works on the imagination and this was so lacking, it was dire!! And after that i don't feel inclined to read any more of his books.
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on 15 May 2004
I'm a big fan of Johnathan Aycliffe's but I have to admit that this didn't scare me at all. In fact it really disappointed me. It pales into insignificance compared to his "A Shadow on the Wall", "The Lost", and "The Vanishment" and the magnificent "Naomi's Room".
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on 15 September 2014
Disappointing for A Jonathan Aycliffe, ghost story as he tells them so well mainly. This is not bad just not as good as what you would expect from one of the m,asters of the genre.
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