The light chill that had rested on her all evening began to deepen. Goose flesh rippled over her body and she looked to the door across from the bathroom. His spare bedroom, the one he had neglected to even open for her to see, must have had an open window in it. As she took a step closer, her whole body shook with cold. Jesus, she thought, it’s not even that cold outside. She did not care if the room was messy; she just wanted to alleviate the cold that was penetrating down to her bones now. And maybe to see if there’s a creepy little kid hiding in there. As she stood in front of the door, she was sure she could feel the draft coming from around the edges of the doorframe.
You know that feeling you sometimes get when you’re at home alone, or in a carpark stairwell at night. You’re walking along and realise, you just sense it, there’s someone behind you. Creeping up on you, breathing down the back of your neck. That glimpse of something, something very wrong, that you only ever see out of the corner of your eye. Somehow Jason Lavelle’s The Cold Room manages to capture that feeling right down to its icy feet and pounding heartbeat.
It’s part romance and part ghost story. I’m not usually one for a romance but this one felt genuine and wasn’t saccharine. Karen moves into her grandma’s old cottage by the lake and meets Joel, a neighbour and artist. They start a relationship and everything’s going swimmingly until Karen starts to stay at his house while hers is being repaired. Then things start to go downhill. A little girl in a white dress starts appearing, and she seems to mean Karen harm.
She lay in bed for several hours after that, but Karen could not sleep. Every time her mind would drift away, the girl in the white dress was there, waiting for her. The girl had cold, menacing eyes that seemed to glow, just like in Joel’s drawing. The girl did not speak or move, but stood to the side in Karen’s mind, watching her.
I’ve told you that I love a ghost story and this one had it all, some good suspense, decent scares, and a few surprises. I even liked the narration of the cat. A few words of warning though, there is a rape scene that is pretty awful. The back story of the haunting was a little tenuous. Also, I’m not sure Joel’s character was entirely consistent all the way through. Perhaps I missed some sneaky brain chemistry alterations manifested by the creepy ghost child. But really, it’s a ghost story. Are you looking for believeability? The freakin’ cat narrates some scenes. How great is that?
The Cold Room, Jason LaVelle: 3 stars.
Read it when: not sure if you want scares or romance? How about a little from column A and a little from column B?