Unhallowed Ground – Gillian White

After reading the cover blurb, this book promised much. Spookiness with an underlying theme. It promised to be “truly terrifying.” I’m sad to say I was sorely disappointed. For saying this author is supposedly so famous (I’ve never heard of her!) and has written so many books, her technique leaves much to be desired.

The main character, Georgie, is a social worker living and working in London. In most of her cases, there is no smoke without fire – but Angela is different. A bright, pretty and happy child – Georgie can’t see any real reason to remove her from her home, from her mother and awful stepfather. There’s no evidence.

But Georgie’s world falls apart when little Angela is killed. The parents claim the little girl fell down the stairs, but evidence points to the contrary, and to the stepfather. A hate campaign is launched against Georgie – blaming her for the fact she didn’t remove Angie and put her with foster parents – and therefore saying she is responsible for the child’s death. Hate letters, obscene phone calls, and a brick through the window drive Georgie to despair.

Georgie has to get away – so she decides to go to her dead brother’s place on Dartmoor. The brother she never knew and wasn’t even made aware of until she was a young woman. The child that caused her parents so much distress has passed away from alcohol abuse, and as his only living relative, Georgie receives everything. Which turns out to be a dingy cottage in the back-end of nowhere which a bunch of weirdos for neighbours. But nobody knows her there, nobody is sending her hate mail or throwing bricks through her window. It is the perfect retreat for Georgie.

Until the violence follows her. A fire, a missing dog, and a watcher on the hill lead Georgie to believe someone really has it in for her. Is it one of the inbred neighbours, or has someone followed her from the big city, determined to make her pay for little Angie’s death? Whoever is waging a war of fear against Georgie, they are succeeding. She considers running back to the city, where it’s safe and the police are nearby. But she soon realises it’s far too late for that. Her would-be killer is closer than she thinks.

As I said, the description of this book sounds fantastic. But I found the writing itself clumsy and cumbersome, the tense, and the person speaking kept changing, and it didn’t seem to flow at all. It just gave off a very disjointed air – and given the fact I was expecting to be “terrified” it seriously didn’t happen – and I’m a wimp! Overall I was really disappointed with this. I didn’t guess “whodunnit” but by the time I found out who it was, I wasn’t particularly bothered anyway, I just wanted to finish the book so I could start another one. Really didn’t get the fuss about this one at all.

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