Title: Black Cairn Point
Author: Claire McFall
Published: August 6th 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller
Length: 259 pages
I purchased a copy of this book.
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
Two survivors, one terrible truth.
Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.
One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?
A chilling and atmospheric thriller from unflinching and award-winning writer Claire McFall.
I bought this book when I was at YALC based on the recommendation of Olivia Mead who was manning the Hot Key Books stall on the day. When I picked it up, I was a bit weirded out by the fact that the main character was called Heather (like me) and she had a best friend called Emma (like my best friend) and they lived in Scotland (like us)! It was a bit freaky to get my head around the coincidences!
Heather and her group of friends are travelling to Black Cairn Point for a camping trip for Dougie’s birthday. Heather’s had a crush on Dougie for ages and Emma sees the trip as the perfect excuse to get them together. But tensions rise when Emma’s boyfriend Darren constantly picks fights with Martin, the fifth member of the group. Leaving Emma and Darren at the campsite, the other three take a hike and discover an old cairn. Digging around, Dougie uncovers an old relic that they take with them. And that’s when things start to go wrong…
The story is told in alternating chapters between the past of the camping trip and the present with Heather in a facility where she is being assessed for her mental stability. The doctor believes that she murdered her friends, but she maintains that the brooch they found was tied to a wraith and the creature made her friends disappear. As we follow Heather’s version of events, it seems that the doctor has it wrong, but there’s no one left to corroborate her story with Dougie lying in a coma.
I loved this book so much. The overhanging mystery of whether Heather actually did murder her friends is a great black cloud hanging over her version of the story. I absolutely hated the doctor, he was such a smarmy git, I was totally behind Heather when she wanted to do bodily harm to him – I felt like punching him in the face myself.
The eclectic group of characters really made for great tension within the group when they were camping. It felt inevitable that the meathead Darren would butt heads with the geeky Martin, with laidback Dougie having play the peacemaker. I also liked how well the change in Heather’s friend Emma was portrayed, with her seemingly changing her entire attitude and personality to better fit the expectations her boyfriend has of her.
Heather’s helplessness at being constantly told to believe the doctor’s version of events left me feeling so sorry for her, I really wanted them to believe her like I did. I could feel her agitation with trying not to say anything in the face of his questioning – even the slightest little word was chalked up as a victory in proving that she was insane by the doctor.
As the events unfolded, I thought I had it all worked out in my head, but then there was the twist. The twist! My god, it was brilliant. I totally didn’t expect it at all. McFall is a genius at throwing a curveball, that’s for sure.
If you loved Darkmere by Helen Maslin, this book has a similar premise and you’ll be sure to love it too. Dark, creepy, but utterly addicting; this has been my favourite read of the summer so far!
This book is available at the following links:
About the Author
Claire McFall’s work is, in essence, all about first love and difficult decisions. Her novels take straightforward romantic narratives and hurl them into unusual and extreme settings, blurring accepted genre boundaries and creating new sub-genres of her own. She then charts her characters’ reactions to these unfamiliar situations and the new and confusing feelings that beset them in a hyper-real, engaging, deeply poignant and literary manner. Claire is a teacher and lives in the Scottish Borders with her husband and she currently working on her next novel for Templar Fiction.