A Cold Season

Alison Littlewood

Cass is building a new life for herself and her young son Ben after the death of her soldier husband Pete, returning to the village where she lived as a child. But their idyllic new home is not what she expected: the other flats are all empty, there's strange graffiti on the walls, and the villagers are a bit odd. And when an unexpectedly heavy snowstorm maroons the village, things get even harder. Ben is changing, he's surly and aggressive and Cass's only confidant is the smooth, charming Theodore Remick, the stand-in headmaster. Not everyone approves of Cass's growing closeness to Mr Remick, and it soon becomes obvious he's not all he appears to be either. If she is to protect her beloved son, Cass is going to have to fight back. Cass realises this is not the first time her family have been targeted by Theodore Remick. But this time, the stakes are immeasurably higher...

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This is a very spooky story. You’ll love it if you are into tales of the occult, or a fan of film classic The Wicker Man, which I certainly am. Cass’s soldier husband has gone missing, presumed killed, in Afghanistan. Floored by grief, she decides to take her young son Ben, traumatised by his father’s death, to start a new life in the remote village on the Lancashire moors where she grew up...

Even as they drive across Saddleworth Moor to reach their new home, strange things begin to happen. The road across the moor seems to tilt so that when Cass drives up a hill, she feels as if she’s driving down it. And there is so much fog that she can barely see a few feet in front of her. A strange hitch-hiker appears at the side of the road. It is a woman called Sally, and she is heading for the same isolated village as Cass. She says her car has broken down, and, oddly, seems to know a great about Cass and Ben, including the address of the new flat they have rented. After Sally has been dropped off, Ben tells his mother he doesn’t like her, adding, disquietingly, that she ‘smells like a butcher’s shop’.

Their new home is an apartment in a beautiful, newly-converted old mill. Strangely, they are the only tenants. Soon, mysterious and worrying events begin to occur in Darnshaw, and Cass begins to fear for the safety of her son. This book is disturbing, in a devilish, Midsomer Murders kind of way. It’s a perfect read for a cold night in front of a roaring fire.


Judy sees something of a dark Midsomer Murders in this story. For me, Darnshaw has more the air of Royston Vasey in The League of Gentlemen. The story is told in ‘real time’ in this foggy, snowy, claustrophobic moorland village. All its inhabitants are rather odd...

Cass’s son starts at the local school, where the mysterious Mr Remick is the temporary headmaster. (We never discover what happened to his predecessor). Handsome and charming, he is a source of fascination for the local mothers As dark, sinister events begin to unfold, Cass begins to seriously question her son’s sanity. As he makes friends with the other pupils, Ben changes from a sad but friendly child into a cold and hostile boy who seems to increasingly hold his mother in contempt. Mr Remick is at the centre of A Cold Season, but perhaps the creepiest character of all is the village of Darnshaw itself. Outsiders are not welcome (think An American Werewolf In London, the movie in which two young hitchhikers wander into a moorland pub but are sent on their doomed way by hostile locals). This story has a similar flavour. After a series of desperate attempts to leave the snowbound village, all of which fail, Cass’s luck changes and it seems there may be a happy outcome after all. But as usual, all is not what it seems.

The mysterious cult of Darnshaw, and its devilish leader, have in some way marked Cass for ever, and even as she escapes, she knows in her heart her association with the village is not yet over. This sensual, sexy and frightening story has a clever ending. It’s all hugely enjoyable – perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.

Reviews & Comments

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  • Whilst the descriptions of the moorland in winter are excellant, I found the story unpleasant and not an enjoyable read. Disappointing


  • Having made a very traumatic journey over Saddleworth Moors in a thick fog a few years ago, the images in the book were very strong for me. I thought it was a very dark book with a lot of unpleasant themes. I think they were made worse with the connection between what happened to children in the book and the Moors Murders in the 1960's. Although I did quite enjoy reading the book it did make me uncomfortable at times.


  • Although the first half of this book was well written and enjoyable, the second half of the book made for very uncomfortable reading.


  • I usually love to read the supernatural or 'creepy' genre of novels, but this was hugely disappointing. It is too repetitive - I lost count of the times the snowfall was mentioned. Also, if a road between 2 moorland villages is impassible, would anyone in their right mind think 'I'll go up onto the moors and plough my way through deep snowdrifts for a short cut ' ! I think not. And why doesn't Cass seem to meet any of the other parents at the school, except Sally and Lucy, and only Theo the headteacher. No other teachers ? For truly credible and rivetting novels in this genre I'll stick to S J Bolton's in future!

    E B Holden

  • After reading 2 of the R+J books i had high hopes for this one. However, from the very beginning of the book i could tell it was not for me at all. I was very disapointed and ccontinued reading only with the hope that it must get better, but unfortunately it did not. I did not like the style of writing and felt it made for a difficult and unpleasant read. Plot lacking somewhat, not beleivable in lots of places and too much hint dropping all the way through. Very poor.


  • I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having read some of the author's excellent short stories I think she has made the transition to this first novel in promising fashion. The characters and locations are well described and the story is gripping. Its a page turner.


  • Having always been an enthusiastic follower of the Richard & Judy 'Good Reads' - they always pick a good selection and I trust them. Sadly this book was a complete dud. It was tripe, if I am honest. It started as a believable good story and developed into total fantasy rubbish.

    I am hesitant to continue picking anymore R&J books, which is a great shame. I just do understand how this made it into the final 8?


  • Disliked this book intensely. Snow featured a lot. Husband turned up ? A horrible scene on the hill and the ending of the book, if I'm not mistaken had evil triumphing over good. Will certainly not be reading any more of this author's books.

    Ann Allan

  • I didn't enjoy this book at all. It started off to be a promising read but quickly deteriorated into a mish mash of cliches and repetitive, unbelievable thoughts and actions by the main character. I'm really surprised that this book made the final 8.


  • I was surprised to read other readers negative comments as I am really enjoying this book - its atmospheric, dark, sinister and has scared me half to death!


  • Loved the story to begin with, great discriptuve writing, made you feel like you where there, having lived near the moors the fog is scary! As I got three quarters of the way through the book I just felt it got a bit far fetched, could have been alot deeper and more mysterious linking into her childhood past in the village.

    Jodie Green

  • It was a lugubrious book and I enjoyed reading it. This is really Horror. Nelly


  • Two main issues with the book for me - how old was the boy? At times he seemed very young, say 5 or 6 & at others about 10 years old. Also if he was so young why was he playing shooting games especially given his father, a soldier, had supposedly been killed. A very uncomfortable read but also irritating.


  • First book of this Author i came across and that was by chance in the library. not that impressed. It reminded me a bit of the Midwich Cuckoos with the children and the evil they were capable of. I have read scarier stuff and didn't understand why the boy's father came back.


  • I loved the first 3/4 of this book, great atmosphere and chracter building....but then the ending spoilt it totally for me.....like a horror 'B' movie. Sadly only 3* from me.


  • A repetitive and boring book, with a plot that dragged on like an expeditions to the Antarctic,and has almost put me off reading for life.

    I for one won't be reading another word that this ' author' writes.

    Alison Campbell

  • For the first time in a long time I'm giving up on a book. This is such far-fetched rubbish. The writing style is very poor & I have no idea how old this child is supposed to be. Nul point to the author.


  • This book started off with great promise, however, two-thirds through it was like a new author had taken over. One without the skill that the other displayed. Very disappointing read - my first from Richard and Judy


  • POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING: I have just finished this book. I thought that the first three quarters of this book was well written and cleverly built up the suspense making it a real page turner. However the ending seemed rather rushed as if the author became bored with the story and as a result it had a rather disappointing finale. The final scenes in the church and on the frozen lake were quite ludicrous. It has also certainly left things open for a further instalment as it appears Cass is driving away from the village holding her stomach as if pregnant with Remick's child? All in all a good first attempt but the author has not quite made the transistion from short story to novel.

    Richard Doyle

  • I found this book very interesting, despite the bad comments people make about it. I personally think that as a her first novel, the author did very well. Looking forward to the next novel by Alison Littlewood.

    Encho P

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