Published 15th September 2021
My rating: ⭐ ⭐
Actual rating of 2.5
It’s Halloween night and seven theatre friends are out for some spooky fun. Deciding to head up to The Hopewell Sanitorium which has been a source of urban legends and ghost stories ever since it shut down. It used to be a tuberculosis hospital, then it became an asylum for the mentally insane. The perfect place for these seven friends to catch their Halloween thrills on a night off from performing. What starts out as some innocent fun, soon turns into a fight for their lives as they realise they have stumbled into someone elses domain, and he’s looking for some fun of his own…
I was in the mood for a spooky read as Halloween had not long finished, and I saw this reviewed by someone, quite possibly on Goodreads in fact, and thought, hey, why not go for a classic haunted asylum horror. I wasn’t super disappointed, but I honestly wasn’t blown away by this story either. It’s incredibly cliche, and incredibly predictable, which took away some of the fun. Sometimes what you need is something cliche and predictable, and I won’t ever condemn a book for being both of those things, just this time it didn’t work for me, and it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
I do want to state that Jones definitely knows how to set the theme and create a creepy atmosphere that I felt even after I’d put the book down for the night. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it didn’t make it any less spooky and didn’t take away from the feeling of helplessness and isolation that Jones created. I feel like it’s incredibly important in horror novels to be able to set the scene and make your atmosphere a character of its own and feel real to the reader, and Jones did this in spades.
The characters are where it fell pretty short for me. They were written well enough, but I just didn’t really care about them until right at the end. I began to cheer on the two remaining characters, and found that I DID care whether they lived or died, but it took basically the entire story for me to get to that point. And if you’re not invested in your characters, what are you invested in? The characters were cookie cutout stereo types which I found odd to be part of a friendship group and some of the characters I even found it odd that they were part of a theatre group in the first place, but then, I feel like that’s me stereotyping them then them not completely fitting the stereotype that I gave them. So in part, that’s definitely on me.
The story itself is pretty straight forward. Friends go looking for Halloween fun, which you know is going to end badly. Friends end up in terrible situation that is threatening their lives. Majority of friends possibly end up dead or horribly injured. Some escape to remember the terrible tragedy. I do think that the character chosen as the villian in this story was a bit unbelievable. And I know, it’s fiction, and it’s horror. And in the beginning, sure, the person seemed innocent enough, but you could tell from the get go that something wasn’t right because this character is incredibly persistent, which rings big alarm bells for me, so I can’t help but wonder how the other characters in the novel didn’t pick it up.
I also feel like this story relied a lot on shock horror for its effects. As said above, the atmosphere was set really well, but the over use of gratuitous gore was a bit on the nose, and I love me a good gory horror movie or book, as long as it’s sole purpose isn’t for shock factor, which I feel like a lot of this was. So if you have a problem with gore, I would advise against reading this as it gets quite graphic in a couple of parts.
All in all, it’s not a terrible book, it just didn’t work that well for me. I’m glad that I’m in the minority on this because every book has it’s audience, and it seems like the right audience has found this one. If you love a good creepy Halloween story, and don’t mind the violence and gore, give it a crack , you might just love it.