A Winter’s Tale: Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll

Title: Frost Hollow Hall
Author: Emma Carroll
Details: E-book, Paperback, 368 pages
Expected Publication: October 3rd 2013 by Faber and Faber
Disclosure: Thanks to Emma Carroll & Faber and Faber for providing a copy for an HONEST review
My Rating: 4 Unicorns out of 5

The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.

Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .

Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.

I fell in love with the cover and synopsis of Frost Hollow Hall from the moment I saw it. Mainly because I’m a bit strange and actually looking forward to Winter. There’s just something magical and mysterious about Winter and the cover promises these in abundance.

I was not disappointed. Tilly is a great protagonist. She’s kind and hopeful despite the rough hand she’s been dealt. Poor Tilly is used to being second best; always in the shadow of her sister who constantly sides with her mum leaving Tilly feeling left out and like the black sheep but Tilly doesn’t let it get her too down, she’s independent and headstrong.

When Will Potter dares her to go ice-skating on the frozen lake in the forbidden grounds of Frost Hollow Hall she goes along. Not because she likes him like all of the other girls in the village but because she craves adventure and excitement in her life. This is when the story comes into its own. Emma Carroll’s descriptive prose is perfect in portraying Frost Hollow Hall as an intimidating yet beautiful place, full of mystery and dark secrets.

Spread out before us was the thickest, most marvellous frost I’d ever seen. The grass was so pale it might have been snow, the trees all white like bones.

I was so intrigued by the place, I was instantly hooked and wanted a glimpse inside even more than Tilly.

And then there’s Kit Barrington, who appears to Tilly when the inevitable accident happens and she falls through the ice. He’s a beautiful ghost and needs her help. I do wish we’d seen more of Kit in the story though as he was the driving force behind everything that happens but we only encounter him properly that one time and in Tilly’s dreams. I wanted more – probably because I couldn’t help but picture him as a younger version of Kit ‘you know nothing Jon Snow’ Harington from Game of Thrones…err hot.

Will is pretty cute too and I’m glad this never really turned into a love-triangle. I like how Will started off almost arrogant and annoying but throughout the story we see kindness in his actions and it becomes clear that he really does care for Tilly. I was rooting for him by the end.

Thanks to Tilly’s strong characterisation I was invested in all the goings on at Frost Hollow Hall. When Tilly was excited, (despite all of the other maids being terrified) I was excited, when she was scared, I was scared for her…I love stories that are rollercoasters, and this definitely was. The pace only dropped once and I found myself wanting to skip on once Tilly had gotten the job as a maid but hadn’t managed to find much out about Kit or the Barringtons but it soon picked up again when the ghostly activity was cranked up a notch.

With creepy rooms, terrified maids, a house-keeper who seems to be hiding something and Lady Barrington mad with mourning, Frost Hollow Hall is a compelling read.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Children’s or YA Historical Fiction out there and this made me wish there was. Carroll’s narrative voice and descriptive language set the scene and time excellently and I loved it. The perfect book to curl up with on a cold, dark night.

Follow Emma Carroll on twitter @emmac2603

Author: lipsyy

Creative Writing graduate. A Northerner in London. I probably love books a bit too much. Also enjoy vampires, unicorns, man love, tennis & can't get enough of trashy teen novels. I find myself thinking 'What Would Buffy Do?' way too frequently. HIYA!

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