It is 1926, London, and Sarah Grey finds herself in an unlikely new job as the personal assistant to Harry Price, London’s most infamous ghost hunter. A brilliant and charming, yet selfish and contradictory man, Harry’s life is devoted to exposing the truth behind England’s many false ‘hauntings’ and exposing fraudulent psychics.
When Harry and Sarah are invited to Borley Rectory- a house so haunted that objects frequently fly through the air, and locals fear the spectral nun and the headless coachmen who are said to roam the grounds – they expect this case to be like no other. Yet stories of a forbidden love await them which, according to legend, has cloaked the house in a sadness that has led to years of unexplained, and terrifying, events. As time goes on, and Harry and Sarah spend more time at the Rectory, their scepticism is thrown in to doubt, and they are forced to confront an uncomfortable possibility – that the ghost of Borley Rectory may be real. And, if so, they are about to make its most intimate acquaintance.
"Do you suppose that those who hunt ghosts are haunted, in turn, by them?
I think I came to this novel with the wrong expectations, thinking it would be a straight forward ghost story with the notorious Borley Rectory as a back drop. However it proved to be so much more than that.
A clever, skilful blending of fact and fiction tell of the the life and times of Harry Price, the first paranormal investigator and Borley Rectory, ‘the most haunted house in England’. The tale is told through the eyes of Miss Sarah Grey, Price’s assistant who is attracted to and later, obsessed with Price’s enigmatic personality. I wanted to crack on with the Borley Rectory element of the novel so the first part of the book was a slow burner for me although I found the post war obsession with mediums and the surge of spiritualism both fascinating and poignant.
Once the intrepid ghost hunters get to Borley the pace picks up but it wasn’t until the last third of the book that I felt anxious about how it was all going to tie up and turn out.
Full of twists and turns and contradictions (does Price want to de bunk the paranormal or prove its existence?) … and is anybody telling the truth in this novel…all this leads to a satisfying chilling conclusion.
Though what haunted me after closing the book was sadness thinking how a generation tried to coped with something as horrific as the First World War and found they were struggling for answers, especially spiritually. As Conan Doyle said ‘‘Christianity is dead, how else could ten million young men have marched out to slaughter? Did any moral force stop that war? No. Christianity is dead – dead!’