4 out of 5 stars
Esther and Dan have taken the plunge and have moved to a disused railway station in a tiny village just south of Inverness. It is a time of change for both of them, Dan had been made redundant from his job and Esther is currently expecting their first child. They want to turn this into a business by making it into a writing retreat.
The story unfolds in their first week at the place. Their new neighbour Mike seems very friendly and even more amazingly Dan seems to be getting on with him immediately. They are beset with fog for the first few days making it very difficult to get out and about there, so Esther starts to unpack the boxes of possessions that they have bought with them. But there are strange things happening around the house, a cupboard that is jammed shut is suddenly found open and tucked at the back is a carved disc of wood with three interlinked hares. As she holds the carving, it begins to vibrate. Her dreams are very vivid and strange, she is walking through the forest that surrounds their home, but is being followed by a hunter. Each day he gets that little bit closer to her…
Esther and Dan have brought a lot of emotional baggage with them too. Esther lost her foot when she was a small girl in a car accident caused by her father who was driving whilst drunk. Dan is from a very religious family and has a very overbearing and oppressive father who they left behind in Bristol. There is also the element of trust between them, a key part of a relationship. A number of the things that Dan says and does do not add up or make sense when looked at in a rational way. She is starting to feel that things are going to be coming to a head soon with the stress of the move still affecting Esther in particular.
At its heart, this is a domestic thriller that has lies, deception and mistrust running all the way through it. Lewis builds the tension between the two main characters well as each chapter unfolds, recounting the events of that day, as well as having a subtle and unnerving creepiness that underlies it all. It didn’t feel very gothic thankfully, rather the unease is drawn from the folk horror elements that Esther experiences in her dreams and the location. I thought that this was pretty good overall, though occasionally the descriptive prose did feel like it was a little overdone occasionally. For me, the final chapter had almost too much going on and personally I would have liked more of the folk horror elements as they can make this sort of book seriously creepy.