The Unquiet Dead by Margaret Bingley

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For May’s book group we had a little day trip out to Morecambe and visited The Old Pier Bookshop. For those that have not had the pleasure of visiting this nice little second-hand bookshop, it is pretty amazing. There are thousands upon thousands of books and they are everywhere! There is some semblance of order, but I use the term very loosely! It’s a real treasure with books piled on shelves from floor to ceiling in loads of little rooms, makeshift shelving bridges between other shelves that you wander underneath – all seem precariously balanced. The owner is a lovely guy, always happy to help, very knowledgeable, and seems to know exactly where each book is amongst the disarray. As part of our day trip we agreed that for May’s reading we would buy a book for another member of book group. I bought ‘S’ by John Updike for Anna, and Sarah bought me ‘The Unquiet Dead’ by Margaret Bingley.

I’m pretty sure that Sarah bought me this book because she knows how much I love a good horror novel. The cover of the book just screams out “Trashy Horror!!”, and the ‘freaky’ kids make it all the more menacing. My initial thoughts before reading The Unquiet Dead were that it probably wasn’t going to be very good but I would probably enjoy it regardless. I thought that it would probably be a bit silly, and not dissimilar to many other horror novels I had read as a teenager. I am pleased to say that in relation to it being bad, I was wrong – it was really quite good. It’s nothing to shout about, I’m not going to spend this blog urging you to go out and grab a copy straight away (one thing is that you’d probably find it quite hard to get hold of a copy, apart from on the internet). I am also pleased to say that it was a bit silly and I enjoyed it immensely.

The story centres round a small village where there has been a spate of murders. A young mother is one of the victims and her sister comes to the village in order to help the father with the children. Whilst in the village, she falls in love with a mysterious local man who has adopted a boy that has been made an orphan by the killer. As their love affair flourishes, all is not as it seems and something supernatural enters their lives along with eleven children within the village. As the reader, you don’t need to be Poirot to work out what is going on and who is responsible for the killings. However, even though parts of the plot are pretty obvious there is quite a nice supernatural element to the novel. The novel is quite short and full of pace; I didn’t find any parts of the book boring as the action continues to build throughout to its climax. The murders are a little grisly but never really gruesome, they are almost comic and camp in some ways. I did find the main female character a little annoying and bit too ‘wet’. There was also an additional ending that seemed completely unnecessary unfortunately.

All together I did enjoy The Unquiet Dead; if you are a bit of a horror aficionado and want to read a book that reminds you of reading horror in the late ‘80s then give it a go. But, don’t go out of your way too much to get hold of a copy or you could be disappointed.

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