Cold Remains (Book) Review
Not so much?
Some characters feel neglected.
‘Cold Remains’ has it all; murder, ghosts, molestation, incest, secrets from the past and a mysterious order lurking in the shadows of the book.
Chilling Thriller, or Haunting Disappointment?
Sally Spedding’s Cold Remains has it all; murder, ghosts, molestation, incest, a terrifying secret from the past and even a mysterious order lurking in the shadows of the book. Normally these things provide me with excitement that keeps me glued to a book. But Cold Remains just didn’t do it for me, which was a shame as I really wanted to love this book.
The story begins with a dark prologue set on Christmas Eve 1946 in Wales (the home of author Sally Spedding) where a young woman awaits her lover’s arrival, only to be chloroformed with her last words being; “I adored you. Was trying to protect you”. The reader is then drawn into the year 2009, where the horrifying events of the past have returned to haunt and set in motion a terrible fate for the two protagonists; Jason Robbins and Helen Jenkins.
So many mysteries and questions are formed early on in Cold Remains, and one thing I enjoyed was how even the smallest, seemingly meaningless things at the start end up having a massive impact on the revelations of the story in later, much later, chapters. There are, however, many mysteries in the story which are not solved in a satisfying manner, meaning I was disappointed quite often with the way the author dealt with the plot twists she had created. And trust me, there are quite a few shockers in there that you will never see coming!
The entire concept of the plot in Spedding’s novel is, in my opinion, a fantastically creepy and original one to say the least. A large cottage in Wales called Heron House is the center of all the malicious events, including a haunting that leads Jason and Helen to the name Marigad, a figure who appears to hold so much importance for the story, past and present. Not forgetting the other elements of the plot I’ve mentioned in the introduction! All these provided me a recipe for success and was, unfortunately, one of the only reasons I continued to read it.
Despite the well-crafted plot, the execution of the sub-plots and different storylines Spedding uses demanded intense concentration and made it very hard to comprehend what was actually going on and what was being explained. Not the kind of thing a reader wants to come across when hoping to enjoy a good supernatural crime thriller! I often had to back-track to make sure I understood what was going on, which slowed me down when trying to read it.
One thing Spedding does well in Cold Remains is create great characters for those who reside at Heron House. Jason is brought there due to a creative writing course headed by the house’s brooding owner, Monty Flynn, whilst Helen is hired as a cook, (despite her inability to make more than corned beef sandwiches). Gwenno and Idris Davies, the cleaner and gardener of Heron House, are a couple who are not all they seem to be.
Their lives and histories are all explored in the story, and I was easily drawn into their emotions as they endured the ghastly Heron House. But regardless of this, the other important characters who have an impact on the plot felt a little neglected compared to the others, some not being introduced until the end which seemed to rush the conclusion too much. There were even moments where so many characters were named in a short space of time that I found myself getting confused as to which character was which. Thankfully, this tiny issue soon ironed itself out and I was comfortable with whom the characters were.
So how to sum up my experience reading Cold Remains? Quite simply it was alright for a one time read as it provided an interesting and creative storyline, which is so hard to master in thrillers and ghost stories these days. But the way in which the novel deals with some of its characters and twists meant that rather than the chilling thriller I was hoping for, it proved more of a haunting disappointment that left a lot to be desired for. All in all it’s worth reading once, but not one I’d be in any hurry to read again.
eBook ISBN: 9781907230394