My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Historical fiction meets paranormal in Thores-Cross, a novel set on the outskirts of a Yorkshire village that was submerged to create a reservoir. Emma Moorcroft is an author with writer’s block following a miscarriage. She and her husband have resbuilt their dream home along the shores of Thruscross Reservoir, where Emma spent many happy childhood summers. Their closest neighbors , descendants of the family that owned the village in the 18th century, tell Emma a story about Jennet, the young village wise woman who becomes known as a witch. Soon Emma starts having strange nightmares, and it isn’t long before she begins writing again, compulsively, day and night.
Thores-Cross is less a ghost story than a haunting. Although no ghost ever appears, Emma soon realizes that it’s the spirit of Jennet emerging through her writing. Each of the women narrates her own experiences from their own place in time, and of the two, Jennet’s is by far the most compelling. Ms. Perkins knows her Yorkshire folklore and traditions, and does a superb job of capturing rural life and customs in the moors of the 1700’s. Jennet seems real, and it’s possible to feel a strong sense of rapport with her. On the other hand, Emma and her husband and neighbors come across as vapid, her experiences, although they drive the story, mere melodrama.
While nothing especially scary ever happens, Jennet’s tale is realistic and engrossing and gives pause for thought. A work of straight historical fiction with her at its center might have been even more effective. Emma’s ends in a predictable, rather hurried fashion.