As the Highland fog surrounds you, the depths of the black Loch intimidate your curiosity as you stumble backwards. It is only then that you notice the pair of yellow eyes staring at you, following you. You pick up speed, not daring to look back. Out of breath and drenched in fear you finally reach the cottage. But as you look up, your eyes are consumed by flames. And you can hear the sound of hooves getting louder and louder behind you…
Today dear readers I am on the blog tour for Hearthstone Cottage By Frazer Lee (Published 24th October 2019) A big thank you to the publishers Flame Tree Press for my copy to review, much appreciated. And also to the wonderful Anne for the invite. Thank you!
About The Author
Frazer Lee is a novelist, screenwriter and filmmaker. His screenplay credits include the acclaimed horror/thriller feature Panic Button, and multi-award winning short films On Edge, Red Lines, Simone and The Stay. Frazer’s screenwriting and story consultant engagements have included commissions for Movie Mogul, The Asylum, Mediente, eMotion, and Vanquish Alliance Entertainment.
Frazer’s novel The Lamplighters was a Bram Stoker Award® Finalist for ‘Superior Achievement in a First Novel’.
Frazer is Head of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. His guest speaking engagements have included The London Screenwriters Festival and The Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass.
Frazer Lee lives with his family in Buckinghamshire, England just across the cemetery from the actual Hammer House of Horror.
Mike Carter and his girlfriend Helen, along with their friends Alex and Kay, travel to a remote loch side cottage for a post-graduation holiday. When Mike becomes haunted by a disturbing presence in the cottage, the bonds of friendship are tested as he must uncover the terrifying truth dwelling within the walls of Hearthstone Cottage.
I love a good horror book. The drawn out suspense, pure terror creeping around the corner and the mind games that come with that ever taunting paranoia. When a horror film deals the audience a jump scare, they jump. But when you encounter a heart-stopping moment in a book, the effects are long lasting. The impact is that much greater because it’s in your mind, whirling around playing on your fears. Let us step inside Hearthstone Cottage, an experience that you will never forget.
Set against the mysterious backdrop of the Scottish Highlands Lee introduces the characters to the reader in the carefree way that most horrors begin with. Young people setting out on a journey with nothing but drink, sex and drugs on their minds. They have their whole lives ahead of them with endless choices and possibilities. You sense the foreshadowing that Lee has created within the first few pages. He adds the key elements for a spine-chilling horror, stranding the young characters in the middle of nowhere with no signal and damage to their vehicle, surely nothing else could possibly go wrong? It lulls the reader into that false sense of security that these characters maybe alright and will come out of this alive… cue evil laugh Muhahaha!
As the narrative progresses the reader learns more about the friendships in the group and their relationships are tested. Trust becomes a big issue as secrets that have been buried start to slowly resurface.
The whispers of folk tales and a witch who performed rituals at the The Spindle Stones is enough to get the heart racing. You listen around the fire with the characters while we learn about the witch and her sacrifices. And for a moment you feel caught in a horror movie yet it gets much darker as your mind starts to unravel to the abstract laughter of a child and the horrifying truth hidden at Hearthstone Cottage.
Mike felt the fevered grip of madness clawing at the insides of his skull. He no longer knew what was real and what wasn’t. His face was laughing back at him, and in his heart he felt only fear.
There is a constant presence of the supernatural entwined with Mike’s paranoia. He is not a reliable character at the best of times as he’s either drunk or high. He is lazy and self-centred and just wants to celebrate graduating with his friends. Yet as events unfold you soon start to wonder about your own sanity, struggling to distinguish the nightmares from the reality. As Mike is haunted by horrific visions he slowly starts to distance himself away from the group without realising it. Lee effectively plays with the dynamics of the characters and the setting. It adds to the element of, ‘who can you really trust and what is actually real’?
He looked into the eyes of each of his friends, and for an instant, he didn’t recognise any of them. Mike saw a trio of people with whom he had nothing in common anymore. Students who just wanted to play at mortgages and baby-boomer, flat-pack cots now that they had graduated. He felt that somehow each of them had mislaid their sense of fun on the motorway hard shoulder on their way to the cottage.
Lee creates a suffocating atmosphere that surrounds the reader in the form of fog and dead animals. It’s addictive reading as you feel that thirst for knowledge; what is happening to who and why? The constant curiosity of the mind and need for explanation is apparent here and works well within the story.
Mike sat bolt upright, startled. Blinking as his eyes adjusted to the scant moonlight from the windows, he glanced around and caught the vague, inky shadow of someone — or something — moving —
The images and metaphors that are served to the reader on a blood stained platter are chilling and disturbing. It would leave any sane person feeling a little queasy. It’s creatively done and you can’t help but admire Lee’s imagination as he writes horror with the effect to unease you and make you feel uncomfortable.
The ending caught me off guard. Lee leads the reader down one path and then quickly changes direction taking you in a full circle that leaves you questioning everything. I won’t spoil it for you dear reader but it made my blood run cold.
I give Hearthstone Cottage By Frazer Lee a Four out of Five paw rating.
Gripping from beginning to end, Lee knows how to spin a horror story that makes your flesh crawl. Filled with suspense and tension you will struggle to look away.
An intoxicating style of writing that toys with your mind. You won’t be able to look at stags the same way again…
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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