Wednesday 11 January 2023

THE TOLL HOUSE by Carly Reagon


A house with history. That's how the estate agent described the old toll house on the edge of the town. For Kelda it's the perfect rural home for her young son Dylan after a difficult few years.

But when Kelda finds a death mask concealed behind one of the walls, everything changes. Inexplicable things happen in the house, Kelda cannot shake the feeling of being watched and Dylan is plagued by nightmares, convinced he can see figures in his room. As Dylan's behaviour becomes increasingly challenging, Kelda seeks answers in the house's mysterious past. But she's running out of time. 

Because something has awoken.

And now it won't rest . . .

I love ghost stories and the synopsis for this one sounded very interesting.

Kelda and her son, Dylan, have moved into a new house. It's also a new town, a new job, and a new school. The pressure of all these changes makes things hard for both of them, but what's even worse is when strange things start to happen in the toll house...

Well, this turned out to be quite the haunting tale. In the real sense of the word because the dead definitely leave an impression, but also because of the complicated lives of the living.

Getting caught up in this tale was easy and happened quickly. I lost myself in Kelda's intense life instantly. She's a single working mother who bought an old house that needs a lot of repairs/updating. It also comes with a history she knows nothing about. Her boss is demanding. Her son befriends the local troublemaker. Her friend Nick comes with a few extra emotional attachments. The new guy she starts dating is a little awkward and is definitely hiding something. And that's before her estranged sister is introduced. 

Yikes! Kelda's life is messy and actually takes a few unexpected twists, turns and plenty of revelations.

Yeah, there's a lot of life stuff for her to work through and I gladly followed along as she struggled to balance everything out. But when the house starts acting strange and bizarre things start to happen, that's when the creeping dread crawled onto the page and kept me guessing.

The story is mainly in Kelda's POV, but there's also the POV of Joseph. He's the toll house keeper and lives there with his wife, in the 1860s. But his life is plagued with tragedy, and as the two timelines come together, the story falls into place when several shocking events from the past are unearthed.

The Toll House is as much a ghost story about the strength of the human spirit, as it is about the very real and familiar story of unconventional relationships. Kelda's perseverance in spite of her many struggles really grabbed me, and kept me glued to the story all the way to the very disturbing end.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this awesome book.

The Toll House, February 2023, ISBN 9781408726440, Sphere

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