Book Review: Castle by the Sea by J.G. Faherty

21952035Title: Castle by the Sea
Author: J.G. Faherty
Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror, Novella
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

How did they get here? Will they ever get out?

Jason and Erika are having a wonderful time at the Halloween carnival…until their swan boat in the Tunnel of Love capsizes amid heavy waves and blaring, maniacal laughter. When they come to they are no longer in a carnival in Ohio, but standing at the edge of a sea in a raging storm. In the distance, atop a high, barren hill, looms an enormous castle.

Instead of answers, Jason and Erika find only more impossibilities within the stone walls. The lavish rooms are lit only by torches and fireplaces, the decorations and furniture are a century out of date, and the mysterious host claims to not own one of those newfangled telephone inventions. Outside, in the storm and the dense mist, lurk strange, threatening figures. Inside, another couple seeking refuge think it must all be a nightmare. Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it’s something much, much worse.

In Castle by the Sea, young couple Jason and Erika go to a Halloween carnival, and seemingly have a blast. Until they decide to go into the Tunnel of Love, their swan boat capsizes, and they end up at sea during a storm. An enormous castle looms over them, and they make their way to the castle, hoping to be save there – although they have no clue what’s going on, and things seem to grow stranger by the minute. The castle host welcomes them, and turns out they’re not the only couple stranded there. But the other couple isn’t from the same time era as Jason and Erika. The castle’s owner, an eccentric man who seems to hide a lot of secrets, is less than forthcoming, and his timid maid won’t be of much help either. How can Jason and Erika escape from this castle by the sea? Is it all a nightmare, or something much worse?

The book starts out with a bang – we’re at the carnival, and boom, Jason and Erika disappear and end up near the castle. There’s not a lot of build up, so there’s not an awful lot of suspense either, at least not until we get past the halfway mark. Although the book is meant to be horror, it never really manages to be scary. It all seems a little over the top, with the characters just up and disappearing. I much preferred the parts of the book that actually took place at the castle, rather than the parts at the carnival. At least at the castle there was a genuine mystery going on, of who roamed the halls at night, why people disappeared, and what their host was upto. I found this easily the best part of the book, and very enjoyable.

The writing is entertaining, and the plot manages to surprise a few times, but the characters aren’t very likeable. I couldn’t connect to Jason and Erika, so I didn’t really feel for them as they tried to escape the castle and the nightmare unfolding around them. Had the characters been more likeable, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more. As it stands, it’s a fun read for fans of gothic horror, but it doesn’t pack much more than that.


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