This book was provided for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and
There are quite a few disturbing scenes in this book. There are scenes of being buried alive, of being trapped in a dead body, of being in a body and being unable to move, and other scenes of a violent nature.
I’m still not sure what it is about Too Near the Dead that drew me in. When the review request arrived in my inbox I looked it over, pondering it and then kept coming back to it until I had to finally admit that I wasn’t sure whether I would like the book, but there was something about the synopsis that was nagging at me. The synopsis suggests a book that could be pure horror, perhaps a paranormal story or just a plain old thriller. I’m not sure whether Too Near the Dead is going to end up being contemporary fiction, or something that is very much my type of story. And yet there I was going back to it again and again until I had to admit that I needed to know what happens in Too Near the Dead.
That is the sign of an excellent synopsis.
Does the book hold up to that standard? Let’s find out.
The answer, as you can see from my rating, is yes; the calibre of writing in Too Near the Dead held up nicely. Grant whisks the reader away to a remote area of Perthshire for a ghost story that will chill you to your bones – and that is coming from someone who does not get chilled to the bones. I have read many horror books and some really odd and weird horror stories in my time, and very rarely do I find myself getting freaked out. However, one night when I was home alone, and I was reading Too Near the Dead I realised very suddenly that I was home, alone, in Scotland on a cold autumn night with just a cat to keep me company. Let’s just say I’m glad that I live in a town near Glasgow and not out in a more rural part of Scotland…
Too Near the Dead is a nice mixture of genres that will appeal to a variety of readers. For me, a horror and fantasy fan, there was just the right blend of the supernatural and horror elements with contemporary fiction to keep me hooked. Likewise, this is very much a thriller and a whodunnit mystery that spans a few hundred years. Mix in local history and urban legends, and you’re beginning to get a feeling of what Too Near the Dead is like. It’s all held together by Grant’s wonderful storytelling, which is so good that I was several chapters into the book before I realised it was in present tense, something I normally hate and find quite difficult to read. I had zero issue with it in Too Near the Dead.
Fen was a brilliantly genuine protagonist who I appreciated for not being overdramatic, and the same could be said for her fiancé James and the other supporting characters. There is a scene in Too Near the Dead where Fen and James have to deal with a major relationship issue, and in most books it would have become the biggest drama fest in the world. Instead, after the initial argument, they talked about it like the mature adults they were. It didn’t go on for days or end up growing into a huge thing. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a couple argue in a book and felt like a real life couple was actually being represented. I also really enjoyed the glimpses into the world of publishing and editing offered by Grant through the eyes of her characters. The level of detail given to Fen and James’ history made the story much more interesting and helped me connect with them easier as a reader.
Too Near the Dead is one of those books that teaches you to step outside your comfort zone from time to time because you will find a hidden gem. I certainly did with this one, although I won’t be making the mistake of reading something by Helen Grant while home alone again! If you’re looking for a spooky read in the run-up to Halloween, then this is a great one to get you in the mood.
Books by Helen Grant
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Over to you
Thanks for reading my review for Too Near the Dead by Helen Grant! What was the last spooky book you read? Let me know in the comments 🙂
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