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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 January 2013
When I bought Naomi's Room by Jonathan Aycliffe, I had some vague idea that it was a dark, creepy but ultimately realistic psychological thriller about a man trying to unravel the mystery of his missing child.

Turns out I was wrong. Naomi's Room is a full-on terrifying horror story, complete with ghosts and gruesomeness.

Charles Hillenbrand, an ageing academic living alone in a large Cambridge house, is tortured not only by the loss of his five-year-old daughter Naomi twenty or so years previously but also by the relentless haunting of his home. As the novel proceeds, we begin to learn what happened to Naomi and why Hillenbrand still lives alone, dogged by the oppressive, malevolent ghosts who torment him daily.

From the moment Hillenbrand begins to talk of strange noises and odd happenings in Naomi's old nursery, I was pleasingly unsettled: the ghost story elements of this novel are extremely well-executed and for me, among the most frightening I've read. Most of the novel relates what happened at the time of Naomi's disappearance, and does so very effectively, but for me it's the present-day narrative, the story of Hillenbrand living by himself and unable to find peace, that really does have the fearfully oppressive, claustrophobic feel of the most terrifying ghost stories (another excellent example of this is Michelle Paver's Dark Matter, probably the most frightening book I've ever read) - although there are certainly elements to the 1970s chapters - most notably the intervention of a photographer whose pictures prove chillingly revealing - that also made me shiver.

Where I found Naomi's Room a little less successful were the points at which things escalated into gore and violence. There are times when Aycliffe leaves particular things unsaid, planting terrifying images in the reader's mind through hints and allusions, and this is highly effective (not to mention skilled). But there also one or two sections in the book that are explicitly gruesome and edging into sadistic territory. There is perhaps a degree to which these were necessary, as - without giving too much away - a certain shock value is required at certain moments in the story, but I found myself wondering if some of the horror might have been more skin-crawlingly eerie and less Grand Guignol if Aycliffe had just reined it in a little. I also felt that some of the characters were rather under-explored, which in some ways made their fates seem more gratuitous. I'd like to have seen them developed into more than victims.

All in all, though, Naomi's Room is incredibly scary in places and, unlike far too many horror novels, well-written in terms of the quality of Aycliffe's prose and with a tautly efficient, tension-building structure. Just be wary of reading it in the house alone...
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on 24 March 2016
I was hooked on this book from the start - the tension of Naomi's disappearance at the start of the book gripped me and it looked like it was going to develop into an engaging psychological thriller but, like others, the events that occur at the end of the book horrified me and not in a good way. I felt that everything has sadly been developed just as a tool in which to craft nastiness that really did not need to occur. This story could have been so much more than it was - it just descended into depravity and then, once the writer had his rather disturbing fun with the reader, just trailed off and ended the book. It's such a shame when a story with so much potential is let down by its ending.
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on 30 August 2017
Guessed the ending even before half way,hate when hype is put on cover of a book to make it sound like you really would miss out ,by not giving it as chance .I wasted money on this !!!!
Only thing I can say is the people who gave this 5 stars are easy pleased and easily scared!!!!
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on 6 January 2014
This is the first book in years that made me jumpy.

It was well written and intriguing, but seemed to die two thirds of the way through. The story that had been weaved suddenly twisted in a surprising and sordid fashion, cheapening what should have been a classic ghost/horror story and leaving the reader disappointed. I was really expecting an end that was more rounded - it was almost as if the author picked it up several years after writing the first half and couldn't be bothered to finish it properly. Shame.
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on 24 June 2014
This book started off with loads of promise and that's how it remained. It wasn't bad but I felt like there was a great story bursting to get out that was kept behind a mediocre one and the ending for me was depressing.
Not a book I'll read again but I didn't think I'd totally wasted my money or time xx
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on 4 December 2017
Excellent tale, very chilling. I read this on my kindle and have bought a hard copy as a gift for someone, as it was so good.
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on 11 March 2017
I couldn't put this book down , really enjoyable. I will definitely read more books by Jonathan Aycliffe
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on 10 May 2017
I'm not a big horror fan but this was ok! It's inspired me to seek out more horror books, some more Stephen King perhaps
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on 26 August 2017
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on 3 January 2013
Couldn't put it down, although after reading it had a restless night! Will look out for more by this author.
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