The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.
Tilly's heart sinks. Will's at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.
Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington's ghost.
Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It's all about the dead here, she's told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets...
Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly's unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 3rd 2013 by Faber & Faber
Frost Hollow Hall is a gorgeous debut from Emma Carroll, who writes so fantastically!
This was a super quick read for me and I delighted in the atmospheric scenes and the chilling moments. Carroll sets the perfect picturesque scene and I could vividly imagine myself having a snowy adventure, filled with danger and mystery!
I adore a good ghost story, but this ghost story manages to step out from the crowd - set in the 1800's, it takes the reader back in time to a dangerous place where speaking out of turn could get you in a whole lot of trouble. I'm not going to lie....I was genuinely chilled to the bone in places and I loved that!
Our main character, Tilly, is a really strong, outspoken, smart and really like able girl. She has had a rough life but for a bit of fun decides to take a boy up on a dare - to skate on the frozen lake at Frost Hollow Hall! Nobody ventures to the Hall anymore, not since the death of, Kit, who drowned in the lake 10 years before.
The ice cracks and Tilly finds herself in the deadly depths of the water, fighting for her life. She is rescued by a boy, the dead boy, Kit. He isn't at peace and desperately wants her help to uncover a truth....
There are so many big shockers, tense scenes and super chilling moments throughout this story. I flew the pages like a wild thing and was on the edge the whole way. I also came across so many interesting characters, some with so many dark secrets hiding deep inside. I adored the beautiful ending and the story has been lurking around in my head ever since.
Frost Hollow Hall is a ghostly winter classic that I think is a must read for any age range. I will most definitely be giving it a re-read next winter. Emma Carroll is an author that I will be keeping a beady eye out for in the future!
4.5 / 5 Stars!
*Special thanks to Faber & Faber Children's for the review copy*
Me and Snow: A Love Story
By Emma Carroll
It’s no big surprise then that my debut novel Frost Hollow Hall is set during an extremely harsh winter. According to records, February 1881 was very cold and snowy.
Another inspiration was my childhood. Heavy snow was quite commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s. I’d sit up late into the night ‘ lamppost watching’- ie waiting for snowflakes to show up under the streetlights. We got days off school most winters. Everyone’s garage had a sled hung on the wall. And everyone owned a pair of wellies. You could say we were prepared.
Yet the memory that most influenced Frost Hollow Hall is from early March 1985 when I went skating on frozen floodwater on the Somerset Levels. It wasn’t as risky as the lake Tilly skates on; the ice was thick and the water not very deep. But I’d had it drilled into me that you NEVER walked out onto frozen water. That if you fell through you’d get trapped underneath, just like the ice hockey team in the movie‘ The Dead Zone.’ The thought was quite haunting and stayed with me all this time.
It doesn’t stop there. I confess I simply LOVE any story featuring snow. My top five, in no particular order are:
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
‘ A sorrowful sight I saw,’ says Lockwood when the weather forces him to stay overnight at the Heights, ‘dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow.’
2. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce.
When Tom opens the door to find the garden ‘shining with new-fallen snow’, it marks the start of a hard winter, and one of the book’s most enduring scenes.‘ They had been skating on the river for several weeks when Tom and Hatty came down to it.’
3. My Swordhand Is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick.
‘The words fell dead into the softness of the snow, but even as they did Radu turned and began to run.’ Snow is a common backdrop to Sedgwick’s stories; perhaps he has a ‘thing’ for it himself.
4. For Love Of A Horse by Patricia Leitch.
The perfect story climax – our hero rescues her horse IN A BLIZZARD!!! ‘ Jinny switched on the torch again. Its beam bounced back from the falling snow as if it were a solid wall.’
5. Tales From Moominvalley by Tove Jansson
I adore all the Moomin stories. This one ends with the Moomin family seeing snow for the very first time. ‘ But all the valley was filled with wet cotton, the mountains and the trees and the river and the roof. And the weather was cold, much colder than in April.’
So I love snow. It changes our everyday world and makes us change in it. And I reckon that’s a pretty good premise for any story.