Jo Fletcher Books, out now
Be careful what you wish for.
Alison Littlewood’s latest novel, A Cold Silence, marks a return to the world of her first novel, A Cold Season. Ever since he was a child, Ben Cassidy’s mother has told him he must never go back to Darnshaw, though he can’t remember anything about the place that would make him understand her request. His relationship with her is difficult, but far easier than the one his sister enjoys with Cass.
One day his mother tells him a childhood friend has died, and is distraught that the funeral is in Darnshaw. Ben decides to go, without telling her so that she won’t worry – and although he barely remembers the dead girl or the place itself, he’s gratified to meet a friend from his childhood. Less gratifying is the news that the girl, Jessica, died as a result of playing the game Acheron, a game he’s not unfamiliar with – a game that claims to grant your dearest wish…for a price.
When visiting his sister in London shortly afterwards, he finds that she, too, plays Acheron – and finds himself helping his childhood friend, his sister, and various others, to get into Acheron’s offices so that they can discover its secrets.
Once inside, truth after truth is revealed, and the reader is led on a twisting search for the final answers, and to find whether Ben can save his friend, his sister, or even himself.
The author has written an involving sequel to her debut novel here, with the reader seeing the ultimate effect the first book’s events had on Cass, her marriage and her children, as well as finding out what has been reaped from seeds sown in the original story. Ben Cassidy proves himself a worthwhile protagonist as he seeks to defend his family, and the story builds nicely to a climactic final reveal and conclusion.
Verdict: A satisfying return to the world of A Cold Season. 7/10