The Haunting of Jessop Rise was an entertaining read. It was an unassuming, simple haunted house story with elements of gothic horror that neither excited nor bored. It simply was, which in some cases is exactly what you want as a reader. I read the whole book in a few hours so it never overstayed its welcome, and for a middle grade novel it did have some pretty effective moments of fear.
William, the protagonist is a surprisingly deep character. Weston actually does a great job of building a pretty decent character profile in a very short amount of time. The main characters felt read and the satellite characters didn’t have too much fleshing them out that the novel felt bloated. My only issue with the characters though was that they felt too much like characters from other novels. There was nothing particularly unique about them to set them apart from better works of the 19th century, or more involved haunted house stories. There were elements of Jane Eyre, The Woman in Black and even Great Expectations.
Using North Wales as a setting for was originally what drew me to The Haunting of Jessop Rise. Wales is a country rife with folklore and mystery. It is a place where tales of witches and fairies become almost believable and the countryside almost seems to sing with the voices of ancient civilisations. There was potential here, but a potential that was completely unrealised. The one element of the particularly Welsh supernatural was actually pretty unnecessary to the plot, and most of the action took place in the confines of the titular Jessop Rise meaning that the setting of Wales was largely unnecessary. The local Welsh were represented as menial and superstitious, whereas the English characters somehow seemed superior, going so far as to scoff at the Welsh language. This bothered me. I’m sure it wasn’t the intention of the author, and indeed was probably pretty historically accurate in the way perceptions lay at the time, however that’s the benifit of writing fiction. Weston simply could have done more.
All in all, The Haunting of Jessop Rise was a short read and one that I must admit I enjoyed despite its shortcomings. It’s an entertaining middle grade horror if nothing else.