Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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From the cover:
Dale and Lucy are two students with a fascination in the supernatural. One weekend, they travel to Sker House, South Wales, a private residence with a macabre history which has recently been converted into a seaside inn. They plan to write an article for their university magazine about a supposed haunting, but when they arrive, they meet a landlord who seems to have a lot to hide. Soon, it becomes apparent that all is not well at Sker House. An air of oppression hangs over it, while misery, tragedy and ill-fortune are commonplace. Gradually, it becomes clear that the true depth of the mystery goes far beyond a mere historical haunting. This is a place where bad things happen, and evil lurks.
Little by little Dale and Lucy fall under Sker's dark spell, and as they begin to unravel the mysteries of the past, they realize that nothing stays buried forever.
Welcome to Sker House, a place where past and present collide.
For anyone who has ever been thrilled by the creak of a stair or phantom slam of a door, SKER HOUSE is the novel for you. It is a ghost story, classic in fashion with a modern sensibility, made better by knowing that the setting, Sker House, is a real location in Wales with an interesting history all its own. As a lover of “real” stories, I couldn’t wait to dive in.
Main characters Dale and Lucy are the stars in this character driven novel, but every other character serves their own purpose to the story. Without the landlord, Manchen, and the others, SKER HOUSE would not have the depth required to pull off such a tale. It’s clear the author knew each of his characters intimately and made expert use of their traits. Most importantly, the reader finds something to identify with in all of them and cares for their fates. The dialogue can come off as trite at times, but thanks to well-written narrative and a story you can’t help but be pulled into, it’s not as distracting as it would otherwise be.
When it comes to ghost stories, though, characters and setting don’t mean much without suspense. SKER HOUSE is a relatively short read, but suspense builds consistently and believably, pulling the reader through the tale page by excruciatingly creepy page. Best of all, the creep factor doesn’t rely on cheap scares or cheesy gore. Saunders is a master of subtle story-telling, planting seeds of suspicion which deliver high payoff as the story unfolds.
As an added treat, the author includes an article at the end of the novel, giving further background into Sker House and its history, detailing the interesting (and sometimes scary) happenings. It’s clear the author holds a certain passion for the location and this comes across in the narrative.
Overall, SKER HOUSE is a ghost story for readers who may shy away from the genre. Saunders’ style is crisp, colorful without being overdone, and packs a lot of story into not so many words.