“In a cottage in a wood” by Cass Green

Well folks… my reading slump is well and truly over. Over the past few days I’ve read some stellar novels. “In a cottage in a wood” is just a prime example. A compelling novel that made the time I spent reading pleasurable, though at times rather tense…

The story begins in the city of London. Neve Carey, a thirty-year-old woman, has just had an evening of partying and has ended up in the awkward situation of having a drunken one-night stand. Upon awakening, and somewhat mortified, she leaves the man’s apartment and begins the long walk back to her sister’s house, where she is now living.  On Waterloo Bridge she meets up with a beautiful young woman.  Dressed only in an evening dress on this frigid December night, the woman speaks briefly to Neve, then gives her an envelope. Seconds later she jumps from the bridge to her death.

Traumatized by this event, things only get worse for Neve. She abhors her boring job as a receptionist for a magazine publishing company. Her best friend is married and heavily pregnant (thus no fun anymore); Six weeks ago she broke up with her boyfriend and is now sleeping on the pull-out bed at her sister’s house (much to the disapproval of her sister’s husband). She has very little money and can barely pay her bills, let alone look for a flat somewhere… Then she thinks her prayers have been answered!  The police have tied up the bridge suicide case and have released the envelope that the woman gave her. It seems that this strange woman has left her a cottage!  Is that even legal??? Yes, it appears there is something called a “Donatio Mortis Causea” which makes it all perfectly legal. Neve cannot believe her luck! She walks out of her boring job and uses the last of her dwindling funds to travel to Cornwall, where the cottage is located. In her mind she pictures a lovely little stone cottage with roses around the door…After an arduous journey, Neve arrives at ‘Petty Whin Cottage’ after dark. Less than welcoming, the cottage is filthy and strangely, the windows all have bars on them.  What has the former occupant wanted to keep out? To make matters worse, there is a dead magpie in the kitchen sink! Cold and dark, the cottage is the last place that city girl Neve wants to be – the middle of nowhere. With few funds at her disposal, and no vehicle, she is stranded in a cottage that seems creepier by the second. No television and no wi-fi, this truly is the back of beyond. Disconsolate and more than disappointed, Neve spends her first night in her new home.

Neve has reached a crossroads in her life. The cottage is hideous and WAY too rural for her liking. Her bills are mounting up and she has no job — no skills.

The next morning, after only the most cursory cleaning of her new home, she sets off on foot to hopefully find a village store where she can buy at least food staples.  After a fruitless cold and wet hike, she meets up with Sally, a neighbor who offers her a ride.  Sally, her husband, and her son live just minutes away. What a relief!  That is until she returns to Petty Whin Cottage to find the toilet backed up and another dead magpie on her front step!  Now completely freaked out, Neve is afraid and so alone. When the axe from atop the woodpile goes missing, she is distraught enough to phone the police. They are less than empathetic and tell her that the cottage’s previous owner, Isabelle Shawcross, had called them many times in the past…

“How can monsters be so… normal?”

Luckily, Sally and her husband allow her access to their wi-fi via their password.  When checking Facebook, Neve realizes that the woman who bequeathed her the cottage, Isabelle Shawcross, was one of Neve’s Facebook ‘friends’.  How could that be? She had never met her before the fateful night on the bridge.

Events escalate, and the reader’s tension is turned up to maximum. Neve’s predicament worsens exponentially. She finds photos of herself on Isabelle’s laptop…  Gradually Neve learns more about Isabelle and what prompted her to take her life.

The reader is in for a tension filled ride as Neve’s history intersects with that of Isabelle.

Wow! I loved this book! It was just creepy enough, just well-paced and well-plotted enough, that it ticked all the boxes.  Though there were a few aspects of the plot that I predicted about halfway through, the author still had some other surprises up her sleeve.

The isolated setting and Isabelle’s morbid family history ensured that the reader turns the pages with baited breath… The disturbed (and sometimes unlikable) characters coupled with the atmospheric locale make the read deliciously tense.  A skilled marriage of modern thriller and gothic suspense.

Highly recommended!

I was fortunate enough to receive a digital copy of this novel from HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

It was my pleasure to write this heartfelt review.

Cass Green is the pseudonym of Caroline Green, an award-winning author of fiction for young people. Her first novel, Dark Ride won the Rona Young Adult Book of the Year and the Waverton Good Read Award. Cracks and Hold Your Breath garnered rave reviews and were shortlisted for eleven awards between them. She is the Writer in Residence at East Barnet School and has been a journalist for over twenty years. The Woman Next Door was her first novel for adults.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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18 Responses to “In a cottage in a wood” by Cass Green

  1. Pingback: Fictionophile’s Top Reads of 2017 | Fictionophile

  2. Great review. I love a good suspense👻

    Like

  3. I read this recently and really enjoyed it too. So creepy! Great review!

    Like

  4. Pingback: Welcome November – Fictionophile’s updates and October’s book haul | Fictionophile

  5. Annie says:

    Great review, I read another book by the author and it was definitely unique, this sounds great!!

    Like

  6. carhicks says:

    Great review. I am not a big fan of Gothic horror, but this sounds quite interesting. I might have to broaden my taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. skyecaitlin says:

    Glad you are out the drought; book sounds great, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sandra says:

    Delighted your reading slump is over! This sounds very creepy. But it’s set in Cornwall which is always a plus for me 😉 On the list for next year’s Hallowe’en!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This sounds like a great read. I’ve added it to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gee, this book sounds really scary and creepy, perfect for Halloween. I have a phobia of birds so finding a dead magpie on the doorstep would just about be the end of me.😱

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Interesting that when you encounter bars on windows you ask what is someone trying to keep out and I ask what are they trying to keep in. Does it depend on which side of the glass the bars are?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Cathy says:

    Great review. It sounds a fantastic read. So glad your reading slump is over 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Emma Cownie says:

    Gripping review…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Margaret says:

    This sounds just the kind of book to read for Halloween! The title reminds me of a song we used to sing in Brownies.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Christine says:

    What a great review, Lynne! Happy for you that you have ditched the reading slump.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Happy to hear you are out of your slump! They are the worst!

    What a great review. This book sounds intense!

    Liked by 2 people

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