Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
An unconventional vicar must exorcise the dark past of a remote village haunted by death and disappearances in this explosive and unsettling thriller from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man.
A dark history lingers in Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, Protestant martyrs were betrayed—then burned. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And a few weeks ago, the vicar of the local parish hanged himself in the nave of the church.
Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping for a fresh start. Instead, Jack finds a town rife with conspiracies and secrets, and is greeted with a strange welcome package: an exorcism kit and a note that warns, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”
The more Jack and daughter, Flo, explore the town and get to know its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into the age-old rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo begins to see specters of girls ablaze, it becomes apparent there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.
Uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village with a bloody past, where everyone has something to hide and no one trusts an outsider.
A nice safe position to be placed in for a young priest, a vicar in a small hamlet outside of Nottingham. You would think so but this turns out to not be the case. Jack (Jacqueline) Brooks has been sent to Castle Croft to replace a former priest. She was moved from Nottingham under suspicious circumstances.
Once a year, the hamlet celebrates a special day to honor the memory of eight missing women burned at the stake during Queen Mary’s purge of Protestants from 1553 to 1558. The martyrs are represented by twig figures which are set ablaze during the celebration.
May 24, 1990 (two) fifteen year-old girls disappear from the area. Half-hearted searches turn up nothing and the community considers them runaways. The mystery continues but the search ceases. Legends abound and this close-knit community goes on with its’ business. Tough place to become the new Vicar, particularly for a female priest.
The characters are well developed and believable. Jack has been blessed with a fifteen year old daughter named Flo. Mother and daughter have a tumultuous relationship very much like many teenage girls and their parents today. Flo is a fairly free spirit and is not the least bit happy with coming to this hamlet from Nottingham and leaving all of her friends.
Integrating into a small close- knit hamlet is a struggle at best! Jack has a very difficult integration because of her sex and the cloistered community. The paupers’ wage of a vicar certainly does not help. The town folk are not impressed by the new vicar and throw at her problems and roadblocks at every turn. Set in their ways they are not amenable to change and a new spiritual leader.
There is no part of this book that moves slow! I am reminded of the young girls who go into the barn in the “Chainsaw Massacre.” You would think they would learn from some of the gruesome stories and tales of killings in those places. And the grave yard outside of the chapel at Chapel Croft adds the macabre to the setting. A rational person would avoid the location like a plague. The locals guard all of the towns’ secrets jealously. A dark and chilling suspense thriller nee horror. Can the vicar solve the mystery of the disappearance of the girls? 5 stars – CE Williams
My other half read or listened to The Other People and The Hiding Place. It was my turn at a Tudor book. Currently on pre-order. FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Kathleen Quinlan of Ballantine Books-Random House through NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: British Horror Fiction, Ghost Suspense, Horror Suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
- ASIN : B087PMPD5S
Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and Netgalley
Title Link: The Burning Girls [Amazon]
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The Author: C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.
She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.
In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.
While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.
She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’
The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’
She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.
She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.
Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.
She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.
She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.
Everyone calls her Caz.
©2020 CE Williams – V Williams