"The Crowsbrook Demons" Book Review
Written by Claire Horsnell
2014, 376 pages, Fiction
Released on May 20, 2014
As much as I am a die-hard horror fan (of course), I have some trouble staying interested in books of the genre. Oftentimes an author will have difficulty keeping a strong line of subtlety that would aid the reader's desired un-comfort, and either end up with a narrative that is too ambiguous and subsequently boring, or too detailed to the point where the frights lose all effectiveness. I was first disengaged to find that the latter is the case in The Crowsbrook Demons, but as I read forward, I found that Claire Horsnell created a light and palatable story that is rooted in its fantasy imagery, which is reminiscent of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Crowsbrook is a breezy and fun read for younger and older readers alike, but due to the fairly simple syntax and the youthful age group of the characters, it reads a little more like a young adult novel than something for a more mature audience.
Sarah Trevelyan arrives in a village called Crowsbrook with an eternity of unfinished business following her. With her family being adept in witchcraft, she uses the knowledge that has been passed down to her to seek out vengeance against the man who allegedly killed her best friend years ago. Using a spell to communicate with a dead man that could provide essential information to her, she subsequently meets the quizzical 'Jez' (Jessica) because she witnessed Sarah talk to the ghost and immediately ran to her with questions about the unexplained. Sarah sets Jez's mind relatively at ease and they form a quasi-friendship that flourishes when stranger occurrences arise in Crowsbrook. After a supernatural attack on two young teenagers leaves the village on edge, Sarah investigates with the help of Jez and her friend Sam. The three then discover a series of demonic and macabre occurrences within the town's history that they could not have possibly expected.
The Crowsbrook Demons is by no means a frightening read. Terror is often derived on what is subtly left to the imagination because it allows the reader's mind to automatically assign their deepest fears to the scene, and an over-explanation of what should be frightening can dampen the desired effect. Because this novel has fairly explicit detail in parts of the narrative that might be deemed scarier, there is a loss of atmosphere for fright. Although this occurs, there is a deeper fantasy element at play that makes it a captivating and interesting book that has escapism on its side. The antagonists are inventive and original creatures that set the novel aside from other horror stories. Witchcraft isn't a necessarily original theme, but with the extreme scenarios and strange beings that Sarah comes across in the duration of this novel, it effectively turns into an enjoyable page-flipper. Alongside Horsnell's cast of likable main characters that are easy to root for, it is very easy to pick up The Crowsbrook Demons and not put it down until it's completely finished.