Review: Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates

cover of Gallows HillGallows Hill by Darcy Coates
Poisoned Pen Press (September 2022) 
384 pages; $12.99 paperback; $4.99 ebook
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Deep in the hills of a small town, a cloud of birds explode into the sky. Their screeches disturbed as though their shelter surged jolts of pain into them.

It’s haunted. Well, some thought so. Others say Gallows Hill was cursed, laced with a poisonous vestige of murder and betrayal.

Most know Gallows Hill for one thing: the hanging tree. Used centuries ago to punish the accused for witchcraft, satanism, you name it. And the most prized wine ages in strong vintage oak barrels made from the hanging tree.

Are you shivering yet?

When Margot receives word that her parents, who she’d not seen since her childhood, passed unexpectedly, she returns to Gallows Hill.

The house, and her family’s centuries-old winery, embodied a glut of darkness. The air tasted metallic and stale and beneath the grounds was a labyrinth of tunnels. Then there are the employees of the hill who stare with something more than sympathy in their eyes: warning and fear.

Darcy Coates carries a razor sharp-axe, stained with the bloody knowledge of dread, scare, and complacency. And she used to it dice all of my expectations for Gallows Hill.

With the spine-chilling build of unease, paired with haunting prose that reverberates deep within this book, Coates has conjured a lasting, rather gnawing, story of horror.

Gallows Hill hooked its claws in me and quite literally in others — you’ll see.

But what really makes Gallows Hill such a mind-bending book is that it reads like an out-of-body experience. I felt connected to Margot’s character. I longed for her to learn the truth about her home, about why her parents cut her out of their lives. I rooted for her, cursed her plenty, and just wanted her to make it.

The ghosts, or “dead ones,” were especially handled with frightening finesse. Everything from their spongy skin texture to their enthralling backstories was genuinely terrifying.

I feel Gallows Hill would’ve made Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier proud.

Gallows Hill is Coates’s most fearsome title yet.

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