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Release Date: 24th October 2019 / Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Mike Carter and his girlfriend Helen, along with their friends Alex and Kay, travel to a remote loch side cottage for a post-graduation holiday. But their celebrations are short-lived when they hit and kill a stag on the road. Alex’s sister Meggie awaits them in the cottage, adding to the tension when her dog, Oscar, goes missing. Mike becomes haunted by a disturbing presence in the cottage, and is hunted by threatening figures in the highland fog.

Reeling from a shock revelation, Mike begins to lose his grip on his sanity. As the dark secrets of the past conspire to destroy the bonds of friendship, Mike must uncover the terrifying truth dwelling within the walls of Hearthstone Cottage.

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My Review

I like books with a scary theme, but I just don’t read enough of them.  When I saw this one, it intrigued me enough to slot it in amongst all the thrillers, romances and historical books that I do read a lot of!!  It certainly gave me a break from the norm, and right from the beginning of the book I could feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck and my heart beat just that little bit faster!

I loved the premise of four friends heading to Scotland for a break.  You just knew that as the cottage is out in the middle of nowhere there was going to be trouble!  The four friends – Mike, Helen, Alex and Kay – are joined unexpectedly by Alex’s sister, Meggie who is already at the cottage when they arrive.  Having already been involved in an accident on the way, which wrecked their hire car, the group’s nerves were already set on edge.  I found Alex’s sister, Meggie a very strange character and didn’t really take to her.  She had some very strong views on topics which were obviously going to cause tension between her and the others, and to be perfect honest I think I would have struggled to stay in the same house as her for any length of time!!

Whilst there were 5 characters, the story mainly revolved around Mike.  Since he arrived at the house, Mike seemed to be suffering from hallucinations, both auditory and visually.  I couldn’t think of anything creepier than to hear child’s laughter in a house where there were no children!!  The hallucinations he was experiencing (if they were indeed hallucinations!!) were scary and really made me feel uncomfortable for him!  It certainly gets you thinking though what on earth was happening – was Mike genuinely experiencing these things or was he simply suffering from a severe psychotic episode?  The story builds the tension at a good pace, leaving plenty of time to contemplate what was happening, but not too slow where you began to lose interest.

The location definitely added to the whole unease of the story.  I could imagine a cottage out in the middle of a Scottish forest, one road in one road out, trees as far as the eye could see and ample opportunities for all sorts of things to be lurking in amongst those trees waiting for you.  Add to that patchy phone signals, strange noises and dark shadows and you have a story which is worthy of being on the big screen!!  Oh, and don’t get me started on the Stag….!!!

All in all, I’m glad I broke from my normal genre, and if anything, this book has given me a taste to want to read more horror type books.  A few days too late for a Halloween read, this book could be read at any time throughout the year.  Full of tension, suspense and good old-fashioned heart-thumping scary bits.  Would definitely recommend!

The Author

Frazer Lee is a novelist, screenwriter and filmmaker. His screenplay credits include the acclaimed horror/thriller feature Panic Button, and multi-award winning short films On EdgeRed LinesSimone and The Stay. Frazer s screenwriting and story consultant engagements have included commissions for Movie Mogul, The Asylum, Mediente, eMotion, and Vanquish Alliance Entertainment.

His film and television directing credits include the multi award-winning shorts On Edge and Red Lines, and the promo campaign for the Discovery Channel series True Horror With Anthony Head. His new short film The Stay had its World Premiere at World Horror Con Atlanta USA 2015. Frazer was named one of the Top 12 UK directors in MySpace.com s Movie Mash-up contest by a panel including representatives from 20th Century Fox, Vertigo Films and Film Four.

Frazer s novel The Lamplighters was a Bram Stoker Award® Finalist for Superior Achievement in a First Novel . His other published works include the Amazon number 1 horror/thriller Panic Button: The Official Movie Novelisation, novels The Jack in the Green and The Skintaker, and the Daniel Gates Adventures series of novellas.

Frazer is Head of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. His guest speaking engagements have included The London Screenwriters Festival and The Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass. Frazer Lee lives with his family in Buckinghamshire, England just across the cemetery from the actual Hammer House of Horror.