The coastguard’s residence Chamber Cottage, which sits high upon the North Yorkshire cliffs, overlooking the the North Sea, holds many secrets.
Alec and Peggy are struggling to overcome their marital problems. Both damages by issues from their childhoods, they are trying to get on with their lives. But this is hard for them to do when they both believe they are being watched. As a result, Peggy, who has terrible scars on her face, becomes more agoraphobic.
To make matters worse, Peggy discovers her estranged mother is stalking both she and Alec, claiming she has a dark secret that is putting Peggy in danger.
What caused the scars on Peggy’s face? Is Alec really the monster Peggy’s mother believes him to be? And what secrets does Chamber Cottage hold?
I was very grateful to Bloodhound books to give me the chance to review Her Dark Retreat; I love a good thriller and I am passionate about supporting local authors. The opening to this book is every persons nightmare, trapped underground in the dark, with no idea of how you got there, being buried alive. This first chapter opens the door to a plot full of suspense, drama, darkness and slowly building tension. The plot is narrated by four of the characters; Peggy, her husband Alec, Peggy’s estranged mother Audrey and Maude, their nearest neighbour who has dementia. It is fair to say that all are unreliable narrators, all are flawed characters with a reason to twist the narrative for their own gain.
The cast of characters were all dealing with important issues in their lives. Peggy has a scarred face which leaves her with low self esteem and agoraphobic. Alec had a bad childhood in which he suffered physical abuse at the hands of his father that resulted in him being put in the care system. Audrey has no contact with with either of her daughters, has lost her husband and has a drink problem. Maude has dementia and doesn’t understand why her mind is foggy and that she can only remember certain things. Of all these characters it was Peggy and Maude I had some empathy for; as a woman Peggy’s facial disfigurement is difficult to live with, and has altered her life and Maude being confused, not knowing what is real and not. All of these difficult issues are dealt with great care but also with reality.
The setting of the cottage on the cliffs in on the Yorkshire coast is perfect for this book. The isolated cottage, on the edge of the rocky cliffs, being battered by the elements is a metaphor for Peggy and Alec’s marriage. They are isolated socially by Peggy’s agoraphobia, and literally by where they live. Their lives are battered by the outside influences of Peggy’s mother and to an extent Maude. Their marriage is on the rocks, and there is a coldness between them, they are walking on eggshells, and there is little affection between them, they are two solitary figures within the marriage.
Her Dark Retreat sone of those books where the suspense builds slowly, like a pressure cooker, and you know that by the end there is going to be one big release of this pressure. With so many twists and turns my stomach was clenching tighter and tighter as I read on until the gut wrenching conclusion, that shocked and surprised me. I highly recommend this dark chilling thriller, it is perfect for these dark cold autumn nights.