Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray
Review Date: 17 October 2015
Author: Tiffany Murray
Release Date: 5 May 2014
Publishers: Seren Books
ISBN –10: 178172220X
ISBN – 13: 978-1781722206
Available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle
The Last Word Review
A multi-layered ghost story that has you in its spell from the first page
One of my all-time favourite ghost stories is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, there have many others since then, and after reading Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray I would be happy to call this a classic ghost story.
This novel is set in 1955, the war still looms large in the memories of people. Sugar Hall is a country house in the Welsh borders and is based on the haunting stories of Littledean Hall in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
Sugar Hall is in a very poor state by the time Lilia Sugar and her two children Saskia and Dieter arrive to take up residence, Poor Liliana has to put up with the freezing cold the rusty locks and the ice from the windows. There are strange rooms that are cold and rooms that are dark and forbidding. But it is Dieter that falls under the spell of Sugar Hall the young boy is lonely and spends time exploring the residence and then one day a strange boy appears from nowhere and Dieter is captivated by the boy except the boy appears and disappears as if by magic, the story of Sugar Hall really starts here. Murray really has a fabulous way at captivating her reading audience with a mix of fact and fiction as the story really unfolds.
Lilia moved to England in 1938 at just 15 years old. As with the classic ghost stories Lilia has her own ghosts to deal with and we learn more about Lilia as the story unfolds. Now with her husband Peter now dead she has inherited Sugar Hall. How is she going to cope with little in the way of money. Dieter’s new friend is now becoming more menacing and is slowly taking over. Dieters grandfather (Gerald) was a keen collector of Butterflies and Moth’s and one of the rooms they call the ‘room of death’ is clearly marked by Lilia as a ‘no entry’ room and is kept locked. I am keen on Butterflies and Moth’s and will never look at them the same again after reading Sugar Hall. Why? You will find out after reading this fabulous twisting creepy story.
One aspect of the book I enjoyed is that each new chapter has an illustration that just adds to the qualities of Murray’s writing skill. Some may find the story has a number of layers that leave questions. For me that is just an added quality that Sugar Hall delivers it wants you not just to read but to question and debate.
Some readers will feel some lingering sadness for the boy ghost and his past, what really happened to him and what was the story of his Mother? Why has he suddenly appeared to Dieter? So by now you realise that this is not just a compelling ghost story but also added mystery. I was compelled to try and get to know more about some of the characters in the story, but these are questions that will haunt you after you have finished reading Sugar Hall.
This is classic writing that should be making Sugar Hall an all-time classic story that should be up there with the Woman in White and the Woman in Black. Simply a superb creepy ghost story laden with twists that will keep you guessing.
Thank you to Seren Books for a review copy of Sugar Hall.
Meet the Author
Tiffany Murray was born in South West Sussex and grew up in Wales. Her first novel Happy Accidents and her second, Diamond Star Halo were both short-listed for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award. Tiffany’s writing has appeared in The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Guardian. She is Senior Lecturer at The University of Glamorgan.