Book Review: Gethsemane Hall by David Annandale

13220384Title: Gethsemane Hall

Author: David Annandale

Genre: Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

The skeptics think they know what’s going on at Gethsemane Hall. So do the religious. So do the spiritualists. They’re all wrong. Richard Gray, grieving over the loss of his wife and daughter, learns that his ancestral home holds the secret of what lies beyond the grave. And all of a sudden, everybody wants a piece of Gethsemane Hall.

Louise Meacham wants in because a fellow CIA agent committed suicide there, and she has to put the ghost rumours to rest to get her career back. Anna Pertwee wants in because she’s determined to save the ghosts from the unbelievers and the debunkers. Patrick Hudson wants in because he has to save Gray’s soul.

So Gray will let them all in, these people who think they’re coming for the truth. What they don’t know is that the truth is coming for them.

Gethsemane Hall could best be described as gothic horror meets gore and torture in a slow-paced, although chine-spilling tale. The book starts off slow by introducing us to a variety of characters, some more relatable than others. There’s Richard Gray, lord, owner of Gethsemane Hall, the house he often visited during his childhood, who is grieving the loss of his wife and daughter while he was in Africa, trying to help people. Gray is actually the easiest character to relate to – which is saying a lot considering he was also descending into madness.

Then there’s Meacham, a CIA agent who has to clean up the mess after a fellow CIA agent and hobbyist ghost hunter killed himself at Gethsemane Hall. The whole CIA angle didn’t really work. Meacham doesn’t have the characteristics one would suspect of a CIA agent, and honestly, the whole book could’ve done without the CIA angle, which gives it more of a conspiracy-vibe than a ghost story. There’s also a magician, although God knows why Meacham decided to bring her along – except maybe to debunk tricks? Although, she already had a renowned scientist for that who had debunked several “ghost” phenomena. Then there’s a team of ghost hunters desperate to believe, Gray’s best friend who wants to bring him back on the path of God, and a whole town filled with people who have heard the “call” of Gethsemane Hall before.

This book is heavy on religion, in fact it’s one of the focus points. Gray loses his faith, and the haunting has a religious angle too that I don’t want to get into because I don’t want to spoil anything. I didn’t mind the heavy focus on religion, but just mentioning it here because I’m sure it’ll annoy some people.

There are also some extremely gorey scenes. I dont mind gore, but it’s rare to see it in a haunted house story – I did like that, though, as it was quite unique.

The story is enjoyable, and there was a lot of suspense, granted. Unfortunately the build-up ended in a huge let-down of gigantic proportions: the ending is rushed (quite a contradiction considering the rest of the book is slow), it doesn’t make much sense, a lot of things are left unexplained (for example: why did this horror/ghost decide to start tormenting everyone now, when there had been people living in Gethsemane Hall for years), and the ending was very dissapointing.

This is perhaps one of the most difficult books I’ve ever had to review. I immensly enjoyed the plot, up until three quarters when it all went downhill. Gay was an engaging character, and I could stomach Meacham, but I disliked most of the other characters – some of them lacked depth, others were so stereotypical they annoyed me. The writing was very compelling at times, and at other times, so overwritten I wanted to eat up the paper.

The story is good, and it’s an okay book, but it could’ve been excellent had the ending not been so rushed, more things been explained, and some of the characters had been cut, or had been less stereotypical. It didn’t scare me, but it did give me some shivers, so the suspense was well done at least. Read at your own peril.

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