The Ghost of Scarside Beck

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The Ghost of Scarside Beck

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...after a strong and interesting start, it does not seem to know how best to wring the horror out of the situation...

Paul Thorpe is the vicar of a small church in the Cumbrian parish of Scarside Beck. Transferred in from an inner city parish, he meets Joan and after a while they marry and settle down. But when Joan is giving her first look around the church, they are mystified by some missing details from centuries ago. Their investigation is further disturbed by several unexplained phenomena as they exit the church. To try and ease their minds, Paul contacts an old friend who may be able to find out what is missing. But as they wait, the events play more and more on their mind as they find themselves pulled further into the mystery.

This is a short, three-act, horror story with a simple setup that doesn’t really pay off by the end. The plot is a staple of horror, but the is well set up and the intrigue that comes from it works well with the two differing characters. Paul and Joan both have understandable backgrounds and motives for their lives and in the ways they react differently to the situation. However, the writing and the way the story plays out just doesn’t grab me. There are several things that are introduced and then not seen again, the disappearance of Scarside Farm, the attitudes of the parishioners, just little things here and there. It could be a set of red herrings to confuse the reader, in which case it worked on me but only with the effect of feeling that there are parts missing to the book. The other problem is that there is so little time for any horror to evolve that it is over before it is done with the explanation of some of the mystery coming as an afterthought.

Overall, this is a disappointment that after a strong and interesting start, does not seem to know how best to wring the horror out of the situation.

Rating: 2
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Nocturnal Thinker (13 October 2020)
Well, this is not worth reading for me since you downplayed it. In the first place, I got intrigued of the things that are missing in the said Church of Scarside Beck. But it turned out to be mellow in your concluding statement.

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