The Ghost Hunters – Neil Spring
The year is 1926 and Sarah Grey has landed herself an unlikely new job – personal assistant to Harry Price, London’s most infamous ghost hunter. Equal parts brilliant and charming, neurotic and manipulative, Harry has devoted his life to exposing the truth behind England’s many ‘false hauntings’, and never has he left a case unsolved, nor a fraud unexposed.
So when Harry and Sarah are invited to Borley Rectory – a house so haunted that objects frequently fly through the air unbidden, and locals avoid the grounds for fear of facing the spectral nun that walks there – they’re sure that this case will be just like any other. But when night falls and still no artifice can be found, the ghost hunters are forced to confront an uncomfortable possibility: the ghost of Borley Rectory may be real. And, if so, they’re about to make its most intimate acquaintance.
My thanks to Quercus for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.
Borley Rectory, the first “real” haunted house that I had ever heard of (thanks to an Usborne book of ghosts in my primary school library). It sparked a fascination for ghost stories that never really went away.
When I heard about Neil Spring’s The Ghost Hunters I knew that this was a book I really wanted to read. As usual I was late to the party as The Ghost Hunters released in 2013, but good books are not time critical and they don’t all need to be read in the week of release. As I wasn’t battling a reading deadline I was able to take my time and enjoy the detail in the story and I believe enjoyed it all the more as a result.
Basing the story around Harry Price (a real person who did investigate Borley Rectory in the late 1920’s) we see events through the eyes of Harry’s assistant Sarah Grey. Though Harry and Borley Rectory (and all the mysterious events within) are key to the plot this is Sarah’s story and it is often a harrowing tale. Sarah first meets Price when she takes her mother to a séance at Price’s London laboratory, Sarah’s father died in the Great War and her mother has not coped well since his passing. The family are somewhat down on their fortunes but Sarah hopes that making a “connection” with her father will bring peace for her mother. Things take an unexpected turn (no spoilers) but ultimately Sarah ends up working for Price.
I will confess that at this stage in the story I was a little frustrated that Borley was not getting a mention (I am sometimes an impatient reader) but once Price and Sarah are teamed up things pick up pace. By the time I finished The Ghost Hunters I appreciated why so much of the early part of the book had concentrated on Sarah, her background and the unpredictable and often unlikeable Price. Stick with this as the payoff is absolutely worth it.
Price and Sarah begin an investigation into the “hauntings” at Borley. A ghostly nun, ringing bells, projectiles aimed at residents, unexplained cold patches in the middle of rooms. Neil Spring paints a delightfully creepy story around the “hauntings”. But Price is out to explain the unexplained and debunk the myth of ghosts – he has his work cut out and will let nobody stand in the way of proving he is right. Friendships are scarce for Mr Price, his methods are controversial and he is not a likeable character – it makes for fascinating reading.
The Ghost Hunters is a story about a life but the focus is the dead. Through Sarah Grey we chart the fantastic career of Harry Price and see the legacy he left. There is so much depth to this book, far beyond a simple Haunted House tale that it really is one to take time to enjoy.
The Ghost Hunters is published by Quercus. You can order a copy by clicking through the link here.