The Blurb (from Goodreads): The Coffin Path is an eerie and compelling seventeenth-century ghost story set on the dark wilds of the Yorkshire moors. For fans of Michelle Paver and Sarah Waters, this gothic tale will weave its way into your imagination and chill you to the bone.
Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.
Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.
When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.
I loved Katherine Clements’ earlier books, which are all set in the 17th century in England. This is one of my favourite historical periods to read about, and it can be quite hard to find books set then, as most people prefer the gaudier Tudor period. I was looking forward to this book so much I pre-ordered it, and I began to read as soon as it arrived on my doorstep.
The story begins in 1674, in the aftermath of the English Civil War, in a lonely house on the desolate Yorkshire moors, with the words ‘I was born with blood on my hands.’ A young woman named Mercy is delivering a lamb in the snow drift. The writing is intense and visceral and full of dark brooding atmosphere. Mercy is the only daughter of the owner of Scarcross Hall, a remote manor house built on the old coffin path that leads up to a circle of standing stones on the fells. Mercy loves the moors, and could never imagine living anywhere else. She is certain her father will find some way to make sure she inherits when he dies.
Strange omens trouble her. The sound of footsteps, objects vanishing and reappearing, and the constant sense of being watched by something malevolent. One day a young man named Ellis comes to Scarcross, looking for work. He has his secrets, and Mercy has hers. And slowly but inexorably, the sense of menace and danger tightens until the suspense is almost unbearable.
Eerie, chilling, and ultimately surprising, this is probably the best ghost story I’ve ever read.