Newly widowed after her husband, Gordon, has been killed during World War II, Annette and her eight-year-old son Duncan leave blitz ravaged London to revive Gordon's inheritance, a rundown hotel in the wilds of Scotland. On the train they meet an old man who befriends them and then turns up at their new home looking for a place to stay, just for a short while....
He is The Clockmaker, a man who had suffered at the hands of the Nazis and even drew the attentions of Hitler himself. But don't waste any sympathies on him - we know almost immediately that he's a wrong 'un. For in Duncan he has found what he has been waiting for for many centuries.
While Annette makes friends in the village, the old man is shunned for being a foreigner. And soon the killings begin.
Atmosphere is everything in tales of horror – and The Clockmaker has bags of it. There is surprisingly little dialogue and, in truth, it doesn't really need it. The thoughts of the main characters are delivered in a short, staccato style and descriptions of locations or weather are minimal yet so precise.
There were a couple of things, though: it sometimes took a few lines at the start of each chapter to establish just who was doing the thinking and whose POV you were reading. And the authors acknowledge the illustrator (and her picture appears at the front of the book with those of the authors) and yet my mobi. version had no illustrations at all, so are they there in e-book versions? I don’t know.
A chilling read with an ending that will leave you guessing and may – or may not – lead to a sequel.
© Richard Tearle
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