The Secret of Splint Hall

Katie Cotton’s first novel is a delightful combination of gothic mystery and family drama. When Isobel and Flora Johnson lose their father during the war, they are forced to relocate to Splint Hall, alongside their grieving mother.

Cotton takes inspiration from gothic tropes, not least the idea of the big house that is also a character and that has a profound effect on each of its residents. This is shown through the relationship that the sisters, Isobel and Flora, have with each of the supporting adults. It has easily identified character types: whimsical Aunt Bea and her scary Mr Godfrey, and the even scarier housekeeper, Miss Stewart.

The supporting characters and the conflicts faced by the main characters are enhanced due to the childlike perspective. The limited third-person narration, primarily from Isobel’s obscured point of view, enhances the fantastical and mysterious plot elements. Cotton relies on the determination and resilience of youth to uncover any possible secrets.

As the typical storyline of a deep-seated family mystery is turned on its head, each answer given is only a temporary solution, with new questions constantly brought to the fore. Therefore, it is an easy read but an enjoyable one, nonetheless. It will serve as a great book to discuss amongst friends, as there is so much to unravel.

Book Cover - The Secret of Splint Hall
Publication Date
March 2022