Tilly, the young heroine of the story, is strong-willed and resourceful, determined to solve the mystery of Frost Hollow Hall. Haunted by the vision of the heir of the Hall, who saved her from drowning beneath the ice of the frozen lake where he died, she resolves to unravel the circumstances around his death. I loved the character of Tilly, from the bleakness of her impoverished, broken home to the backbone that she shows when she manages to obtain employment as a housemaid at the big house, determined to play detective and solve the mystery. The spookiness of her nocturnal forays into the house, chasing a spirit which is obviously not at rest, were full of tension – as a child it would have really given me the shivers in places.
The book is about love both hopeful and hopeless, sadness, and loss. There are so many losses in the book, both in Tilly’s threadbare world and also in the big house. It is also about redemption and healing, quite beautiful and moving without being cloying.
The only thing I wasn’t as charmed with was the colloquial dialect in places. I think that is difficult to handle well without irritating the reader, and every time she she said “I in’t done” whatever, it brought me out of the story a bit. But that is sincerely my only negative about this book – aside from that small thing, it was well-written, believable and very suspenseful, quite a charming book.
The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.
Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.
Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.
Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .
Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.