Published: January 2021 by Michael Joseph
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, Book Review
500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide
Welcome to Chapel Croft.
Single parent Rev. Jack Brooks and her teenage daughter Flo, moved to Chapel Croft ostensibly for a new start, and for Jack a chance to perhaps find some peace. An ‘unfortunate situation’, as described by the residing bishop in her Nottingham parish, resulted in a move neither Jack or Flo wanted to a much smaller parish in rural Sussex. It was an interim position until a full time replacement could be found. However, no-one had seen fit to mention that the last vicar had committed suicide.
But then there had been the little girl. Ruby. Mum and the church had been splashed all over the papers. That’s when things had taken a turn for the worse.
Jack gets a less than warm welcome from some of the parishioners, including being sent an old and seemingly used exorcism kit from someone unknown, and almost immediately twig dolls and visions of the burning girls begin to manifest. Chapel Croft, idyllic on the outside, but with a bloody and horrifying history, soon begins to show its darker side when Flo sees something unimaginable in the churchyard and secrets begin to surface.
The legend of the Sussex martyrs plays a huge part in the history of the village. The legend goes that two of the eight Protestant martyrs took refuge in the chapel but were betrayed, caught, then tortured and killed. The women are said to haunt the chapel and appear to those in trouble.
I love that Jack is far removed from the image of a stereotypical vicar. She has a traumatic back story, smokes (although she’s trying to give up), likes a drink and has a tendency to swear. She’s also very good with people, and has a loving relationship with her daughter, who also doesn’t conform to the ’norm’.
Told from different perspectives, including that of an unknown man recently released from prison and hot on Jack’s trail, keeps up the suspense and tension levels.
He is free. After fourteen years. And this time, he isn’t going back. He’s finally got himself clean, done their rehab programme. Kicked the drugs, behaved like a good boy.