I've been a huge Barbara Erskine fan since reading Lady of Hay. Unfortunately this book (at least the regular-size type edition) has not been released for sale in the United States yet. Fortunately I was able to order it through Amazon.uk.
This is a long, virtual door-stopper size book - at just over 540 pages, this hardcover is a hefty read. Though there were a few spots where it did lag a tiny bit, the plot was well done and the action continued to move at a brisk pace keeping my interest through the entire book.
Emma Dickson is a successful business woman living in London with her fiancé Piers. During a visit to her dentist, she leafs through a magazine and sees a cottage for sale on the Essex coast. It's a house she remembers from her childhood summers in the country. She immediately senses that she must buy the house. Piers wants nothing to do with it. He loves their life in London and flatly refuses to even look at the cottage. Emma goes out to the country herself, falls immediately in love with the house, and puts in an offer for it. She buys it against the wishes of her fiancé, quits her job, and leaves Piers behind in the city. ...the excitement is just about to begin for Emma.
The cottage Emma bought is haunted, as is the local shop, by long-dead spirits who were once in a heated battle - one was a witch (the ghost in Emma's cottage) prosecuted by the Witch Finder General Matthew Hopkins (the ghost in the local shop). The spirits of these people begin a war against each other using the living players in the tiny village, pitting one against the other. Slowly a tide of evil builds in the town. Senseless crimes are committed. Life in the village is thrown out of balance. To restore the balance the age-old battle between warring spirits needs to end.
I don't want to spoil the story by telling any more of this tale. Suffice it to say, this is a very well written ghost story. You will believe in ghosts when you read it. The tales of the persecuted witches is thoroughly engrossing, the glimpses into the past are seamless, and the ending is so well crafted that you will believe it could all so easily happen. This was a highly enjoyable read and is a keeper of the best kind.