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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Sugar Hall
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 4 April 2017
Sadly this book fell way short of expectation. The story is clunky and has no real 'spark' to hold your interest. The handling of the 'ghost' is actually quite comical. There's nothing spine tingling or suspenseful in this tale. It plods along to a deeply unsatisfying ending which leaves the reader thinking, "How depressing." It was sheer pigheadedness that made me persevere until the end: I should have submitted after the first few chapters.
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on 24 January 2016
A rather poor attempt at a horror ghost story. What Ms. Murray has succeeded in, is make her ghost unappealing and repulsive. But that's what I guess is wrong with the whole novel: it inspires disgust rather than horror.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 May 2016
Tiffany Murray's Sugar Hall begins with the recently widowed Lilia Sugar and her two children, Saskia and Dieter, moving from their London flat, a post-war new build, to the ancient country mansion Dieter has inherited from his father's estranged family. The house is in poor repair and German-born Lilia feels horribly unequipped to play lady of the manor, while Dieter and Saskia, Londoners are heart, are lonely and out of place. But is that the only reason they feel so uncomfortable at Sugar Hall? And why is Dieter the only surviving heir?

Sugar Hall is a ghost story that edges from shiver-inducing eeriness into out-and-out horror at times; the ghost in question becomes an increasingly powerful, vengeful force. However, there are other, less literal 'ghosts' in this book. Lilia is haunted by memories of her past in 1930s Germany and the family she left behind, and her daughter Saskia, born when Lilia was a teenage refugee, is a constant reminder of the Nazi stormtroopers' brutalities.

This book is certainly strong on atmosphere, and the period details throughout are perfectly chosen and described, but it's also strong on character. A vivid cast of supporting players lend the story multiple points of view, in addition to those of the Sugar family themselves. Some (such as neighbour Juniper) more sympathetic than others (the local vicar) but all feel three-dimensional and believable. Moreover, Sugar Hall as a house is almost a character in its own right. Built on the proceeds of unimaginable cruelty in the days of the slavery, it's an oppressive and claustrophobic presence throughout the novel, ghosts or no ghosts.

More of a slow build than a rollercoaster ride, this is a genuinely creepy yet sensitively written book. What it doesn't really do is answer every question it raises, so if you're the sort of person who likes every loose end to be neatly tied up and every mystery to be fully explained, you might find the last chapter or two unsatisfactory, but I enjoyed Sugar Hall a great deal and found it to be a fascinating and surprisingly thought-provoking ghost story.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 13 January 2015
Intelligent, beautifully written ghost story/supernatural mystery based in and around Sugar Hall, country house in the Welsh borders, and set during 1955.

Sugar Hall has fallen into a poor state by the time key characters Liliana Sugar and her two children Saskia and Dieter take up residence. Circumstances lead to lonely young Dieter spending far too much time alone in the crumbling pile exploring the endless corridors and untended grounds. When he makes a friend, a strange little boy who seems to appear and disappear in and out of nowhere, Dieter quickly falls under his spell and the mystery of Sugar Hall begins.

Sugar Hall is complicated mainly due to it being a combination of fiction and 'fact'. Some of the plot is based on 'real' events that took place at Littledean Hall, Forest of Dean, reportedly the most haunted house in Britain, while the rest of the plot is a history/character driven mystery taking in themes as wide ranging as slavery and execution. Revenge and retribution leap up from every page and the plot leads off in many different directions.

Did I enjoy the book?. Very much. It held my attention and made me think plus; I enjoyed the dark mystery at the heart of the plot.

Not a quick read but thoroughly entertaining. Recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 7 November 2014
Liliana Sugar and her two children; Saskia and Dieter have moved into Sugar Hall. The hall is old, and crumbling, it's cold and full of strange objects and dark rooms, there are rats and damp. Sugar Hall is a shock for all of them, they are used to their cheery little flat in London, surrounded by friends and noise and bright lights. Liliana is a widow and her children are fatherless, the locals are curious about this German sounding woman and her two very different children. Only Juniper and John really make them welcome.

Dieter meets a small boy in the garden and it is this meeting that will change the life course of each member of this small family. This is not ordinary little boy, this is a boy with a past, with grudges, with anger, with a score to settle.

Tiffany Murray has a unique and intriguing way with words. Sugar Hall is most certainly a ghost story, but it is also a tale of long-gone slavery and sugar plantations, with hints of murder and scandal. At times the complex plot can become overwhelming in its intricacy, yet this does not take away anything from story at all. There is a sense of unease and impending disaster that hangs over each page which only urges the reader to read on, faster and with an urgency until they reach the quite shocking and somewhat unexpected ending.

Sugar Hall is a book that left me with some unanswered questions, yet the more I think about the story, the more I think that I understand. This is one of the beauties of the story; the ability of the author to create a multi-layered mystery that can be both confusing and satisfying, yet never frustrating.
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on 29 October 2015
This book gave me the creeps in more ways than one. Creepy story, creepy characters and so many creepy crawlies! Bravo.
A wonderfully written ghost story.
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on 18 June 2014
I read this book very quickly, both because it was wonderfully well-written and also because it evoked my fifties childhood so beautifully; although mine was thankfully without any ghosts.

Reading it at 3am this morning with a cup of tea, in a Victorian house full of creaks and shadows, I was both enthralled and terrified.

I love Tiffany Murray's books with her great story-telling and that sense you have with her writing of so many classic novels gathering behind her.

But this is my absolute favourite...until the next one.
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on 18 October 2015
One of my all-time favourite ghost stories is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, there have many others since then, and after reading Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray I would be happy to call this a classic ghost story.
This novel is set in 1955, the war still looms large in the memories of people. Sugar Hall is a country house in the Welsh borders and is based on the haunting stories of Littledean Hall in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
Sugar Hall is in a very poor state by the time Lilia Sugar and her two children Saskia and Dieter arrive to take up residence, Poor Liliana has to put up with the freezing cold the rusty locks and the ice from the windows. There are strange rooms that are cold and rooms that are dark and forbidding. But it is Dieter that falls under the spell of Sugar Hall the young boy is lonely and spends time exploring the residence and then one day a strange boy appears from nowhere and Dieter is captivated by the boy except the boy appears and disappears as if by magic, the story of Sugar Hall really starts here. Murray really has a fabulous way at captivating her reading audience with a mix of fact and fiction as the story really unfolds.
Lilia moved to England in 1938 at just 15 years old. As with the classic ghost stories Lilia has her own ghosts to deal with and we learn more about Lilia as the story unfolds. Now with her husband Peter now dead she has inherited Sugar Hall. How is she going to cope with little in the way of money. Dieter’s new friend is now becoming more menacing and is slowly taking over. Dieters grandfather (Gerald) was a keen collector of Butterflies and Moth’s and one of the rooms they call the ‘room of death’ is clearly marked by Lilia as a ‘no entry’ room and is kept locked. I am keen on Butterflies and Moth’s and will never look at them the same again after reading Sugar Hall. Why? You will find out after reading this fabulous twisting creepy story.
One aspect of the book I enjoyed is that each new chapter has an illustration that just adds to the qualities of Murray’s writing skill. Some may find the story has a number of layers that leave questions. For me that is just an added quality that Sugar Hall delivers it wants you not just to read but to question and debate.
Some readers will feel some lingering sadness for the boy ghost and his past, what really happened to him and what was the story of his Mother? Why has he suddenly appeared to Dieter? So by now you realise that this is not just a compelling ghost story but also added mystery. I was compelled to try and get to know more about some of the characters in the story, but these are questions that will haunt you after you have finished reading Sugar Hall.
This is classic writing that should be making Sugar Hall an all-time classic story that should be up there with the Woman in White and the Woman in Black. Simply a superb creepy ghost story laden with twists that will keep you guessing.
Thank you to Seren Books for a review copy of Sugar Hall.
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on 25 June 2014
A beautifully written, somewhat melancholy, haunting book that's hard to put down.....read it for yourselves and decide...you won't be disappointed.
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on 29 November 2014
I really loved this book and read it in three nights, seriously spooking myself at least once. There are many good things about it but what I especially liked was the character development - it was not difficult to imagine these people, nor to feel like I knew them quite well, because of the way they have been written. I also like the little "amuse-bouches" between the chapters, which give the reader a hint about what might be coming up.

It reminded me of the Woman in Black and The Others in that it's got that big-old-haunted-house-in-the-English-countryside vibe, but this had a lot more history in it, I thought, which I thought added an extra layer to the story.
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