It seems like I have an abundance of ghost stories lately. I am not complaining about this. I like a good ghost story as much as the next person and enjoy them whether they are a good scare or a sentimental tale. I had an advance review copy of “The Pendle Curse” by Catherine Cavendish that I wanted to read before its release date to I decided to tear into this ghost story hoping for a good scare.
Laura Phillips is lost in grief after the sudden death of her husband. She has left her job behind and is existing in a listless state that is somewhere between the living and the dead. The only thing that really brings any type of emotion to her life other than grief are the brief and vivid dreams she has about a hillside and a strange man walking upon it. When strange events begin to occur in her house that make her question her very sanity, she begins to research the dream and learns that the hill of her dreams is a real place. She is dreaming of Pendle Hill.
When Laura travels to Pendle Hill, she finds that the hill and the man are all too real as she becomes embroiled in a generations old feud as well as a web lies and deceit that have spanned the years. Pendle Hill was the site of one of the biggest executions of witches in the country and Laura discovers that the evil has never been cleansed from the place. She must now try to save her souls in the face of witchcraft and an ancient evil.
“The Pendle Curse” is a ghost story that spans generations as an ancient witchcraft and the evil is spawned searches for a home. Laura is drawn into a web of intrigue that has been searching for a host over the years and she unwittingly finds herself drawn into the ancient struggle by her curiosity and grief. The novel seamlessly flits back and forth between the present and the past as the forces converge upon Laura as the curse grows stronger. It is an ancient force but one that seems to grow more powerful as it becomes focused on Laura. Cavendish does a good job of weaving the two stories together as the curse of the generations slowly comes to a head both in the past and the present so that the reader can easily follow the stories to their cataclysmic convergence. The melding of the curse across the years serves to make it more powerful and sinister as the novel draws toward its conclusion.
While “The Pendle Curse” is well written and paced while the story progresses toward its climax, I felt that this climax was a bit of a letdown. It was, in fact, a bit of an anti-climax for me as the story was quickly resolved and with little surprise as it concluded as I expected it would. This not only left me feeling a bit disappointed but it also left me feeling that the story was missing something as well. While I enjoyed the novel, I just think that it is missing the punch needed to set it apart from other novels of its ilk. “The Pendle Curse” is an entertaining ghost novel and well worth a read but it just does not rise above the crowd to go from being good to being something more. I would recommend it to those who are fans of ghost stories and tales of black witchcraft.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The Pendle Curse” is scheduled to be released by Samhain Publishing in February.