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Fell by Jenn Ashworth - Review

Monday, July 15, 2019

I got this book at a writing conference that I went to two years ago, called Grrrl Con. Jenn Ashworth gave the key note speech and she was signing copies of her book afterwards. I've been meaning to read it for ages, but just hadn't got round to it. Then after I read The Silent Companions I was asking on Twitter for recommendations of more modern gothic novels and someone mentioned this so I knew it was time to pull it off the shelf.

It is a dual narrative novel told from the point of view of ghosts. Yes that baffled me too. The ghosts are the parents of Annette, Jack and Nelly. In the modern age, Annette returns to her childhood home, The Sycamores, because her stepmother Candy has died and the house has now been left to her. She's now in her sixties, and the house is crumbling. Not least because of the sycamore trees in the front garden. Annette wants to do up the house in order to sell it, but the whole undertaking is bigger than she thought and she's more frail than she expected to be, too. Opening up the house awakens the spirits of her parents, and they watch her in the house and round about.

In the second part of the narrative we go back in time to 1963, when Annette was eight years old. Her parents ran the house as a lodging house. The family lived in the attic rooms and had several lodgers on the first floor. At the beginning of the book they have just three lodgers, and Nelly is dying of ovarian cancer or something similar. The family goes to the local lido and Jack meets Tim Richardson, who, in the course of showing off to his friends, manages to heal Jack's shortsightedness by touching him.

Jack invites Tim to come to live at The Sycamores in the hopes that he will heal Nelly. Over the course of the summer and the beginning of the winter Tim gets more and more involved with the family and Nelly gets iller and iller.

The book is set in Grange over Sands in Cumbria which I thought was a great setting, I really liked the small town feel and the beach adds to how creepy it is. I really liked the book, I would have liked more of Annette's inner thoughts, but I get that in that part of the book she's being observed by the ghosts of her parents. It's a really good book, I'm glad I finally got round to it!

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