Paranormal Fiction: The Crowsmoor Curse, by Jan McDonald

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Beth is a naive woman vicar posted to a remote parish in Cornwall, an insular community still tied very much to ancient “pagan” beliefs. The plot of her story revolves around the 300 year old legend of an evil squire, who, to this day, must be kept in his grave by a specific daily ritual. When one of the key players in the ritual dies without an heir, the village fears that the squire will emerge from his carefully tended grave.

The Crowsmoor Curse has the makings of a good, conspiratorial ghost story, but there are a couple of problems that interfere. First, the details of the plot are transparent, readily discernible by the reader, but not, alas, to the vicar. While events in most of the tale are reasonably credible, the ending goes way over the top. Second, it contains so many run on sentences, devoid of basic punctuation, that in places the narrative is comically nonsensical. Was it even edited? Example: “As time passed by and still no-one attended the church he had continued to hold his services to empty pews becoming more and more reclusive and being seen walking around the moor muttering to himself under his familiar black bowler hat.” With shorter, properly punctuated sentences, the prose would be competent.

As it stands, The Crowsmoor Curse reads like a first or second draft manuscript. With additional work, it could be so much better.

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