Review: A STRANGER’S GRAVE By Craig Saunders
Elton Burlock’s done his time. Twenty-six years for a terrible murder. Some of those years were hard, some easy. On the outside, he takes the only job he can find – the custodian of a local cemetery. A simple job, keeping the grass tidy…giving the dead a haircut. But there are three black angels in the cemetery: a little girl’s ghost that roams the night…and two women, one a vision in white, one a nightmare in black. When the killing starts, who can rock the restless dead back to sleep? Who but Elton? Elton, custodian of the dead, but the gatekeeper, too. The keeper of this world and the next. The dead are awake. The little girl is free of the earth. But there are no lullabies for the dead and if he’s going to live, Elton’s going to have to give her what she wants. Then, maybe, he can find peace for them both — in the grave or out.
2012 seems to have been a bumper year for horror stories, and in particular a bumper year for ghost stories. I love ghost stories, there is something reassuringly cozy about them. That might sound a little odd, however I love to turn the lights down get myself a hot chocolate and sink into the chilling embrace of a good ghost story.
Craig Saunders A Stranger’s Grave is a vintage example one such story. This is a haunting and moving story, that pitches the balance between quiet psychological horror and all out gore drenched horror. At it’s heart this is a story about duty, and how a person can be torn between two counterbalancing duties. In this case it’s the sense of duty that Elton feels towards both his desire to stay on the straight and narrow after his release from prison, and that which he feels he owes the residents of the cemetery. This a beautifully written novel, where Saunders clean and crisp writing style cannot help but draw the reader into this excellent novel. Craig has painted his lead character Elton with detailed sympathetic strokes, this is a man who you as the reader will come to care about. The book is also littered with some excellent supporting characters, some of which are not as they first appear.
A Strangers Grave, is an excellent modern take on a ghost story, with enough fresh and new ideas to keep the reader hooked right up to the last sentence.