Tim and Abi have always been different from their peers. Precociously bright, they spend their evenings in their parents’ attic discussing the macabre and unexplained, zealously re-reading books on folklore, hauntings and the supernatural. In particular, they are obsessed with photographs of ghostly apparitions and the mix of terror and delight they provoke in their otherwise safe and boring childhood.
But when Tim and Abi decide to fake a photo of a ghost to frighten an unpopular school friend, they set in motion a deadly and terrifying chain of events that neither of them could have predicted, and are forced to confront the possibility that what began as a callous prank might well have taken on a malevolent life of its own.
An unsettling literary ghost story set in the early 1970s between a claustrophobic British town and a menacing Suffolk manor, The Apparition Phase is an unnerving novel which pushes us repeatedly over the line between explanation and inexplicable fear. Like al the best ghost stories, it questions what is real and what is simply a trick of the mind – and whether there’s really a difference between the two.
Well, The Apparition Phase has caused quite a stir in my life this last month so it seemed only fitting that I should pick it up and read it straight away. Actually as part of a group read on Instagram with a group who I had met through numerous previous conversations about the book and the 1000 words the author Will Maclean had written – one in each copy of the 1000 books he had signed for specialist book shop – Goldsboro Books.
The book itself is divided into 4 parts and the story is about Tim, first as a child when he and his twin sister Abi decided to fake a ghost photo, along the lines of the infamous fairies in the garden, but just one picture, that they showed to one person. The consequences of this innocuous prank ripple throughout the story. A story that is at times creepy, always fuelled by mystery and a great ghost story which will leave the reader curious to know more.
The four parts are distinct and I was kept guessing throughout, but I was pleased by the conclusion which wrapped up the story nicely, while leaving the reader with some things to think about! This was a book I read with others and we all enjoyed it. It generated a lot of discussion and was a great ‘book club’ read. Collectively we had a lot of theories about the direction the story was heading, we weren’t spot on, but we had some strong ideas that were certainly true for aspects of the story.
Thanks to the author Will Maclean for joining us for our final discussion, it was a perfect finish to a great readalong, although on balance he left me with more questions than answers, and the ultimate compliment from me, if I was a rereader, this book…
A recommended read definitely. For me reading it as a group meant I read it slower than I otherwise would and this did impact my reading experience. However there were a lot of positives to reading it with others and the discussions were fruitful.
About the Author
Originally from the Wirral, Will Maclean has been fascinated by ghost stories since he was a child, and has been writing them almost as long as he can remember. He’s written for television professionally since 2006, during which time he’s worked as a scriptwriter for people as varied as Alexander Armstrong, Al Murray and Tracey Ullman. He is the writer and creator of Audible Original paranormal comedy drama series High Strangeness. He’s written extensively for children’s television, and has been part of writing teams that have picked up two BAFTAs and an International Emmy. He lives in London with is wife and young daughter.