From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.
If you open your door to the Midnight Man,
hide with a candle wherever you can.
Try not to scream as he draws near,
because one of you won’t be leaving here…
On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.
It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.
Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.
Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?
This book was – and still is – all over Twitter, and rave reviews led to my FOMO sending me to Netgalley to request a copy. I even hassled the publishers, praying I hadn’t been declined. Fortunately, my impatience was soon rewarded, and I settled in for what I hoped would be a thrilling read.
Jeez, did I luck out! It was everything I hoped for: tense, twisty and atmospheric. The poem in the blurb sets the scene perfectly for those five girls who prepare to play The Midnight Game. It’s legendary in Slayton, and something of a rite of passage for teens to seek out an abandoned building and dare to knock 22 times and let the Midnight Man in.
Blackhall Manor is something of legend itself, home to a series of deaths 25 years ago when the father of the household killed his family – parents, wife and children – before turning the gun on himself. Ever since, the house has been considered cursed, making it the perfect setting for The Midnight Man.
Unfortunately for the five girls invited to Blackhall Manor that Halloween, this is a game with deadly consequences. It begins as spooky fun, superstitious nonsense … until one girl goes missing. Now, you might expect the four remaining girls to ‘fess up and tell their parents where they’ve been, but no. The power of the message on their invitation – if you tell, you’ll go to hell – is so strong that they’re too scared of what might happen if they admit where they’ve been.
Detective Sarah Noble has just gone back to work after extended leave. Her backstory is complicated and multi-faceted, both elements that inject her personally into the case of the missing girl, and not merely in her role as a police officer. It affects how she is treated by her peers, and also how she feels about Blackhall Manor.
Her friend’s son, 7-year-old Elliot, is a kindred spirit. He’s been having visions of the hooded man in his nightmares. These visions extend to the missing girl, and later to others caught up in the game. He finds Sarah to be a safe haven, someone to whom he can reveal what he’s seen and who, as a police officer, can actually help. Elliot is the sweetest boy but he’s not easily fobbed off. He is per-cep-tive in every sense (as his teacher has told him) and he not only sees the Midnight Man, but he also sees through adults trying to use his abilities for their own end.
As evidence comes in, the police think they’ve found their man … but have they? Sarah has her doubts, but doesn’t feel able to share them at work. If she is going to prove herself capable as a detective, she’s going to have to revisit her past. Dun, dun, duuuuunnn …
I’ve not read anything by this author before, and I was super excited to get my hands on this one (Thank you Embla, Netgalley & Caroline). I’ll admit to being wary, as horror (the gory stuff) is so not my thing, but I’ll categorise this as creepy horror blended with twisty suspense and aspects of a police procedural. I’ll definitely be back for more.