In Darkling Wood and Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll-My thoughts

A double whammy for the first time here at!

Having just read these two gems back to back, I thought I’d do a double review (very cosy!)


Good Reads synopsis:
‘You’re telling me there are fairies in this wood?’
When Alice’s brother gets a longed-for chance for a heart transplant, Alice is suddenly bundled off to her estranged grandmother’s house. There’s nothing good about staying with Nell, except for the beautiful Darkling Wood at the end of her garden – but Nell wants to have it cut down. Alice feels at home there, at peace, and even finds a friend, Flo. But Flo doesn’t seem to go to the local school and no one in town has heard of a girl with that name. When Flo shows Alice the surprising secrets of Darkling Wood, Alice starts to wonder, what is real? And can she find out in time to save the wood from destruction?

So what did I think?

I loved the mix of the contemporary setting, and the modern issues Alice faces, with flashes of the past and the supernatural. The main narrative alternates with letters from an unknown character(at first), describing the writer’s encounter with fairies as she waits for news of her brother who is missing in action during WW1. As the main story unfolds we learn how the stories of the two girls meet.

I really enjoyed every aspect of this story. I found the writing evocative and gripping, and raced through the pages. It’s a hugely accessible read. Alice is a very believable character, and her relationships with her family are well drawn and compelling. What I particularly enjoyed (as a writer learning her craft) is the way all the strands of the story and the characters all weave together so seamlessly. Every detail of the story fits together with all the others so, so skilfully. I was particularly enchanted with the depiction of Alice’s relationship with her paternal grandmother, Nell in the dark and timeless old house. The delight of this book is waiting for all the secrets to surface.

It’s a story about family bonds, resilience and hope against the dark shadow of death. And the fact that it has fairies in it, really is the icing on the cake!

A very heartwarming and intriguing story, with a beautiful cover by Julian De Narvaez!


Good Reads Synopsis:
‘The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.’
Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.
Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.
Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . .

So what did I think?

Frost Hollow Hall is a spooky ghost story set in the 1880s, and will tug at your heartstrings for sure!

As with In Darkling Wood Emma Carroll’s writing is so deliciously evocative you are immediately drawn into the heart of the story. We soon see that Tilly Higgins has a lot to contend with even before she sets an ice skate on the lake at Frost Hollow Hall. Her near death experience leads to her investigating the mysteries surrounding this eery house. Luckily she makes good friends to watch her back.

The main story is punctuated by snippets of her dreams, and later with a diary entry which help us piece together the unfolding mystery. We sympathise with Tilly’s dilemmas and root for her all the way. As with In Darkling Wood the themes of family ties, and life and death emerge. We’re left guessing the outcome of all the strands of the story right up to the end.

Another magnificent page turner. But beware if you’re easily scared, and reading this before bedtime!

Out of the two I preferred In Darkling Wood, as I’ve always believed there might be fairies down the bottom of the garden, but they are both excellent reads, and I can’t wait to read everything else she’s written!

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Pippa Wilson 7th September 2015



  1. These sound fantastic! I’m wondering: are there any “Alice in Wonderland” references in “In Darkling Wood?” I’m just curious because of the main character’s name plus the fantasy setting.

  2. Greetings 🙂
    Glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed these! They sound great.

  3. […] we will eagerly await news of her next book! I can recommend Gaslight to fans of Cogheart, Frost Hollow Hall and  Street […]

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