"Lee creates an atmosphere of unease and foreboding that culminates in explosive violence and terror. Rife with frightening imagery, ghosts, and visceral horror, this tale will please the most ardent of horror fans." – Booklist
Mike Carter and his girlfriend Helen, along with their friends Alex and Kay, travel to a remote loch side cottage for a post-graduation holiday. But their celebrations are short-lived when they hit and kill a stag on the road. Alex s sister Meggie awaits them in the cottage, adding to the tension when her dog, Oscar, goes missing. Mike becomes haunted by a disturbing presence in the cottage, and is hunted by threatening figures in the highland fog. Reeling from a shock revelation, Mike begins to lose his grip on his sanity. As the dark secrets of the past conspire to destroy the bonds of friendship, Mike must uncover the terrifying truth dwelling within the walls of Hearthstone Cottage.
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A retreat in the Scottish Highlands turns into a nightmare in this hair-raising, but frustratingly anticlimactic horror-fantasy novel from Lee (The Lucifer Glass). Mike, Helen, Alex, and Kay are on their way to a lakeside cottage for a post-grad vacation when they run over a stag and kill it. Fleeing the scene, they arrive at the cottage only to find it occupied by Alex's strange younger sister, Meggie. As they settle in, Mike begins to have hallucinations of childlike laughter, disturbing repressed memories, and the dead body of the stag they killed bleeding out on the cabin floor. Things grow stranger as Mike's night terrors cause him to sleepwalk. He becomes violent in his sleep and sexually assaults Kay while sleeping. The subsequent falling-out leaves Mike alone in the cottage with Meggie, and Mike makes a discovery that horrendously upends his life. Though the story is built from familiar horror tropes, Lee manages to sustain the suspense until the novel reaches its crisis point but a tepid reveal dissipates the tension. The disappointing ending will leave horror-fantasy readers unsatisfied.