Warning – do not read this book if you have a nervous disposition; it is a seriously spooky ghost story. However, if you enjoy having your spine tingled and the hairs on the back of your neck raised, then this is a book for you.
A girl called Tilly Higgins goes skating for a dare, on the frozen lake of a mysterious Manor House, the eponymous Frost Hollow Hall. Suddenly the ice cracks and she sinks into the icy water and realises she is about to die. In Tilly's words: "Slowly, gently the lake closed over my head and all went quiet but for the blood pounding in my ears." She sees the image of a boy, he is beautiful and she thinks he is an angel coming to take her to heaven but he looks troubled and it seems he is trying to say something. Then she is out of the water and she knows no more until she wakes up wet and shivering in the kitchens of the grand house.
The boy appears to her in her dreams and Tilly realises that he is Kit Barrington, the heir to Frost Hollow Hall, who drowned 10 years earlier in the lake. He appears to be pleading for her help and Tilly is determined to uncover some secret that will allow him to be at peace. She has to use her brains and courage to complete her task.
The story is told through Tilly's voice and the author has captured this brilliantly, you completely believe in the character because she is so well written. the phrases and words she uses really do sound like a not very well educated girl from the past. Emma Carroll also describes the settings in such fine detail that you can imagine that you are there and feel the creepy atmosphere. For example, the woods near the lake are described like this: "We now stood in a gloomy thicket. It was as quiet as death; even the birds weren't singing."
As well as being a classic ghost story this book also has the theme of how to deal with the loss of someone you love, and moving on with your life. It is an astonishingly good book for someone's first novel but I do think you need to be about 11 to read it.