Step aside Stephen King; there is a new queen of horror coming through! The Haunting of Ashburn House is the scariest book I have read by Darcy Coates yet!
Adrienne inherits the Ashburn estate from a great-aunt that she has never met. Once in town, Adrienne learns that her great-aunt Edith was considered strange and eccentric. She rarely spoke with anyone in town and never invited anyone into her home, but would bring injured animals to the vet clinic. Rumors about the death of her entire family and her survival bounce around town and change depending on who you talk to. Were they all murdered? Did they succumb to disease? Did the go insane? Why is there a light in the tower every Friday night? No one really knows, but everyone has a theory.
As Adrienne settles into the massive house with her cat, Wolfgang, she realizes that there is something strange going on. Strange, scratched messages throughout the house warn her not to hang mirrors and to light a candle on Fridays. Something keeps upsetting Wolfgang. Sunset brings a reaction from the animals in the surrounding woods, the paintings in the hallway seem to change, and it sounds like there is someone outside at night. Is it the local kids daring each other to touch the house? Could it be one of the ladies she met in town that wants to scare her out? Or is it something else?
One evening, on her way back from town, Adrienne stumbles on a clearing in the woods with a single grave marker in it belonging to E. Ashburn. Is this Edith’s final resting place? Why is there an Ashburn buried alone in the woods and not with the rest of the family in the cemetery? As Adrienne exams the area, she notices a distorted and pale figure on the edge of the clearing. Is it human? Is that a zombie? Is that Edith? It chases Adrienne in a terrifying manner, even sinking its teeth into her leg. Using her mace allows Adrienne to break free but does not stop the creature.
The clearly-not-alive creature continues to torment Adrienne in the days to come from outside the house. It cuts her electricity, taps on the windows and walls, and leaves handprints on the window. Adrienne is trapped. Why did her great-aunt leave her this haunted house? Was it a trap to lure her here? She must use the resources inside the creepy house to rid the property of the creature who is trying desperately to get inside. Once Adrienne brings herself to go into Edith’s old bedroom, she learns that there is a basement door that she didn’t know about. Is it locked?
The most terrifying trip to a well-hidden basement ensues. Wolfgang leads the way into the basement, guarding his master and is the only reason Adrienne escapes. But will they manage to keep what lurks in the basement in the basement? Will Adrienne figure out how to defeat this undead monster that wants to tear her to pieces? Will she finally light the stupid candle in the tower?
Holy haunted house is all I have to say! This is by far the most terrifying book I have read in a while. I enjoyed every page of it! My only critique of this book is that there were several sentences that did not match the rhythm or cadence of the rest of the writing. It only happens a few times, but it’s enough to notice. It is as though someone dropped these sentences into a paragraph and did not bother to make sure it flowed with the rest of the chapter. It’s just enough to cause the reader to go back and reread the paragraphs they are in. Despite that, The Haunting of Ashburn House is a great read for the fall season. It has everything you could want for the spooky season-an old and isolated estate, monsters in the woods, unsolved deaths, strange things happening inside the house, terrifying chase scenes, and something lurking in the basement. If you are looking for a good scare this season, then this book is a must for your fall reading pile!