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The Thin Place by C. D. Major

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Horror | Speculative Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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The Thin Place by C.D. Major is published with Thomas & Mercer and has been described as ‘an unsettling story about a woman drawn to a creepy bridge in Scotland, where dogs are known to leap to their deaths, and the dark secrets she uncovers.’ Using Overtoun Estate in Dumbarton, Scotland as her inspiration, C.D. Major weaves The Thin Place around an actual freaky phenomenon that locals refer to as ‘the doggy suicides’.

Overtoun Bridge has a very strange claim to fame. Since the 1950s there have been an estimated 300 plus dogs drawn to the bridge and, for reasons unexplained, have jumped into a 50ft drop, with approximately 50 jumping to their deaths. Frightening stuff indeed. From paranormal activity to another animal’s scent, theories abound, but no one has, as of yet, uncovered the truth behind these weird and disturbing events. Overtoun House, according to local superstition, is haunted by the White Lady of Overtoun, the ghost of ex-estate owner John White’s grieving widow. It is believed that there is some connection between her ghostly presence and the dogs’ unexplained reaction to the bridge.

The story shifts between multiple timelines that are seamlessly woven throughout, with chapter titles alluding to the character being focussed on. Ava Brent is a journalist and has a reputation for her tenaciousness in both her personal and business life. When she is made aware of this famed bridge in Overtoun she decides to investigate and is immediately grabbed with a sense of something unusual, something that puts her on edge. Although her nerves are inexplicably shook Ava experiences a compulsion to return and to unearth the truth behind this eerie place. Ava lives with her husband, Fraser and their marriage has been loving and happy. When Ava discovers she is pregnant they are overjoyed and Fraser becomes really excited about the prospect of being a new Dad, throwing himself into preparing their flat and their lives for this new addition. But, Ava, although present, is not really there. Her headspace is completely absorbed with Overtoun and its history.

Following the First World War, Marion Foot thought that her days were mapped out as a spinster, living with her mother and a father who is clearly suffering PTSD following his traumatic experiences over the previous years. Marion dreams of being swept off her feet by a charming young man and, when that actually happens, she is unable to believe her luck. The dashing Hamish West sets his eyes on her. Marion is unable to believe that he picks her and when he does, he sweeps her off her feet, marries her and brings her to his estate near Dumbarton, Overtoun House.
Marion and Ava’s stories intertwine through the novel as the reader is taken on a gothic read through the decades of time. It is a supernatural mystery with plenty of moments that will put the reader on edge questioning the truth behind the individual character’s behaviour. C.D. Major has tackled quite a few interesting themes throughout the novel which I will not delve into for fear of spoilers but needless to say it will send many readers off in search of more facts.
The Thin Place derives its name from an old Celtic belief where heaven and earth are connected loosely allowing for a sometimes cross over between the two, a sort of place between two worlds. Using this analogy C.D. Major creates an atmospheric read that will appeal to those who like their houses haunted. I really enjoyed the historical elements to the story, delving deep into Marion’s life but Ava, unfortunately, did irritate me at times. As a pregnant woman, I did find some of her actions a little too far-fetched and her attitude, both to Fraser and her family, was extremely selfish as she persisted, at any cost, with her search for the truth. The plot does contain a few predictable elements removing some of the guess work but C.D. Major still managed to hold my attention to the end.

The Thin Place is an entertaining spooky read with a few nice twists to keep the reader intrigued. I was very keen to read more about Overtoun’s history after I turned the final page and, as an aside, C.D. Major does include some very relevant historical notes that were a great addition to further explaining her inspiration for the book. The Thin Place is definitely a book that would transfer nicely to the screen as it has a very atmospheric and malevolent feel, with a few goose-bump moments. Do you believe in the Otherworld?

(c) Swirl and Thread

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