On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by Carly Reagon, The Toll House.
The past isn’t always dead and buried.
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 a ghost story at this time of year, which meant that The Toll House by Carly Reagon, went straight to the top of my TBR pile. It has such a spooky cover, and, I must admit, the cover alone drew me right to it when I saw it. I loved the creeping sense of danger that Carly Reagon builds on as the novel develops.
Carly Reagon flicks backwards and forwards between the years 1863 and the present day building on the tension in each time period, and creating a dark atmosphere. The central focus of this book is a house, where in the present day, Kelda and her son Dylan, have just moved into. The property is known as The Toll House and Carly Reagon describes this setting so well, bringing the house to life in her writing. From the moment when Kelda arrives, she senses that something isn’t quite right about the place, and soon strange things start to happen, especially when she uncovers a death mask, belonging to a former occupant of the house.
The history surrounding the property was fascinating, and I thought it was really well done, how Carly Reagon built on this, especially when Kelda begins to think about the traumatic events that once happened there, and wonders if she made a mistake in buying it. You can clearly see her reservations about staying there, from the moment she first steps into the house after buying it. This is what adds a chilling note to the atmosphere. It’s hard to see, at this point, just what kind of danger Kelda and her son are in, and what evil may lurk in the house, and this creates more tension.
There are some intriguing backstories that Carly Reagon builds on as we get to know Kelda further. As Carly delves into her history, it made me connect even more to Kelda’s character. There are some emotional scenes as Carly reveals what has happened in Kelda’s past, and I liked how the relationship with her son, Dylan, was explored.
The mystery surrounding the house is really intriguing. I wanted to find out more about what happened to the people who lived there in the past, and what impact this would have on Kelda and her son. The Toll House is a brilliant debut; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Publication date: 6th October 2022
Print length: 328 pages
The Toll House is available to buy: