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What it's about: In The Secret of Crickley Hall, Gabe and Eve Caleigh along with daughters Loren and Cally have rented Crickley Hall while Gabe is working on an engineering project nearby. Gabe and Eve's goal is to find some peace and quiet to mourn the disappearance of their child Cam and to prepare themselves to acknowledge Cam's death, even though his body has never been found.

They do not find peace and quiet. Instead, the family is beset by frightening noises, dazzling lights, and, ultimately, ghostly apparitions. The history of the mansion is that Crickley Hall housed eleven orphans, a teacher, and two administrators during a momentous flood in 1943. All but one of the administrators reportedly perished in the flood, and Crickley Hall has been haunted ever since. Gabe refuses to believe in ghosts. Eve is more than willing to believe because that would mean there is a future for her beloved son Cam.

As Eve and Gabe and a reluctant psychic delve deeper into Crickley Hall's past, they discover the story is more complicated than a simple, though tragic, drowning.

What I thought: It took me a while to engage with Eve and Gabe. I'm not sure why, since their plight--nothing worse than a dead child--should have evoked a sense of pathos in me from the start. Once the grizzled caretaker entered the scene (haven't you noticed the grizzled caretaker seems to be a haunted house trope?), the characters took on a life of their own. I think it was the way Gabe and Eve kindly interacted with the elderly caretaker that first got me to genuinely like them all.

The Secret of Crickley Hall contains an evil spirit. I'm not a fan of malign ghosts (I like my ghosts wandering and troubled), and the author James Herbert tends to include bad ghosts in his novels. However, the evil one in The Secret of Crickley Hall is integral to the dark secret behind the haunting, so I understand his presence. For an extreme example of James Herbert's bad spirits in action, read The Ghosts of Sleath. I actually stopped reading Herbert for a while after that. The Ghosts of Sleath was a much darker (translation: disturbing) sequel to Herbert's novel Haunted, which I liked very much--both the book and the movie.

Overall, despite being turned off by evil (and there was depravity behind the secret, no question about that), I enjoyed The Secret of Crickley Hall much more than I liked The Ghosts of Sleath but not as much as Haunted. The last third of The Secret of Crickley Hall was quick-paced, and the ending was heart-stopping. I should know. I stayed up late to finish it.
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on June 2, 2016
Much has been said by reviewers about this book being too long and all repetitions in it - I completely agree with those reviewers. The author keeps describing the same moment as seen by everybody present, and since they all are seeing the same so it is quite boring.
The American father - almost a comic character. His daughter corrects his English because she does not want him to be recognizable American. In fact, he speaks like a hillbilly American. Come out of it! He is supposed to be a brilliant engineer and an educated person. Not all Americans speak like that!!
The vortex of bad things in the Crickley Hall appear to be in the "cellar" - right from the moment the family enters the house, it is clear. Even if there are no ghosts, there is that dangerous well. And the door keeps unlocking itself. So - how long should it take for responsible parents to fix that door even if just nailing it into the frame??? Never happens. They just keep closing it walking by like zombie.
The grieving mother irritated life out of me. All the BS about a "telepathic connection" with her son. Where was that connection when her son had been taken from her while she slept on a park bench? So now she's endangering her other kids while insisting on staying in the obviously bad place just because she feels her (definitely dead) son is alive and reaching to her through that place.
One of the last scenes - the same grieving mother sitting on her butt in the middle of havoc while her daughter is taken by the villain to the basement to be killed. She just freaking SITS there, and what if her husband did not show up? Huh? She did not EXPECT anybody coming that night, so why did not she try to fight for her child? How am I expected to feel anything but contempt for such characters?
And so it all was going on and on and on for 500+ pages.
Then, the last 150 pages or so, we have the climax with all usual cliches - impossible villain, stupidest victims making all the wrong moves, etc. Very template-ish.
What I did not understand and would consider very irresponsible were it to happen for real was the fact that, in the end, they did not expose the truth. So all evil people got to keep their pristine reputations intact. I so hoped that nasty minister's wife would get to eat a piece of humble pie. But no, they could not be bothered. The excuse - "who would believe it" - does not work for me. Everything could have been explained were they to tell the story shared by the villain who drowned in the well.
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on November 29, 2014
I saw the movie first and thought it was pretty good. When I discovered this book I knew I had to read it and was a bit disappointed in how Herbert treated the little Jewish boy. I wasn't surprised at the level of violence aimed in hatred, but it seemed too extreme and I preferred the different way it happened in the movie. I usually love James Herbert books, but even though this one held my attention I wish it had been a bit more like the movie. I was surprised at the complexity of the villains in the story as they weren't quite so three dimensional in the movie. I did not find a character to rally behind, which was a disappointment.
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on October 17, 2011
Cameron Caleigh went missing almost exactly one year ago. It's been a year of hoping, beyond all hope, that he will be found alive. Now, Gabe and his family have left their London home for Crickley Hall, in the quiet village of Hollow Bay, where, they hope to begin recovering from their loss. Eve immediately dislikes the ugly and foreboding house and insists that they leave. But, at Gabe's insistence, the Caleighs decide to give the house a chance after all.

Strange noises from a hall closet and the footsteps in the attic keep the family up all night and before long, they begin to suffer violently real nightmares. The Caleighs discover that the house has a terrible and tragic past: In 1943, a great flood swept through the town of Hollow Bay killing sixty-three people. Of these, eleven were orphans sent to Crickley Hall to be cared for during the war. Their caretaker, Augustus Cribben, was a violent and demented man. Now, heavy rains, similar to those that caused the flood of 1943 have started again and the spirits of Crickely Hall are waking up.

James Herbert is one of my favorite horror authors. Commonly known as the "King" of British horror, a title that is well deserved, he manages to build amazing atmosphere in his books, ratcheting up the suspense and managing to creep out the reader well before throwing in the really scary stuff.
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on November 3, 2017
This had great story potential, but has too many scenes of sex between a 12 yr old child and adults. Sick. Don't recommend.
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on October 26, 2015
I am a great lover of classic ghost stories, and I give the M. R. James award to this contemporary author. Admittedly, the main characters are a modern family rather than an introverted scholar, and the hauntings arise out of situations that would be unmentionable to the Provost of Eton, but the authentic goosebumps are there. I watched the movie before I read the book. Both are excellent, and the movie is a very close adaptation of the book.
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on November 23, 2013
The Secret of Crickley Hall is a very compelling ghost story! The story continues to build as the mystery of the house and buried town secrets begins to unravel. The horror becomes almost unbearable as the family of the house comes to understand the truth behind the hauntings, which I felt at times to be very disturbing. James Herbert's style of writing grabs you and never lets go until the very emotional end. I highly recommend this book for true ghost story fans.
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on November 11, 2016
As a fan of Hetbert's work, I am very pleased to recommend this title as one of Hetbert's best works and on par with Ghosts of Sleath.
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on October 22, 2014
This is a well written book by the British master of horror. I highly recommend it for any fans of the horror genre. If you are not familiar with James Herbert's work, think Stephen King with an English twist.
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on March 9, 2018
CREEPY! However, I liked it.
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