The Curse of Ragman's Hollow by Rhys A. Jones #BookReview #BlogBlitz

Just a walk in the countryside. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam Jones's grandmother is training him to be one of the Cunning Folk, like her, and exams are looming.
But Sam's mother has holiday plans and drags him off to a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere for some country air. No mobile phone, nettle soup and long walks are the rule. One such walk takes them to Ragman's Hollow, a place the locals avoid with good reason. It's a place where people and animals go missing, never to be found.
That's just superstitious nonsense, according to Sam's mother. But there is no smoke without fire and Sam soon finds himself up against an old, very spiteful, and very tricky enemy.

He's going to need every ounce of his cunning to stop the Ragman. But can he do it alone?

It's my pleasure to be one of today's hosts for The Curse of Ragman's Hollow blog blitz. Many thanks to the author, Rhys A. Jones and to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the novel.

The Curse of Ragman's Hollow is the third book in Rhys A. Jones Merryweather Mysteries series but the first I have read. I think I would advise other readers to start the series in order if possible, to fully understand Sam and Gran's back story but there is enough explanation here to mean that newcomers to the books soon know enough to enjoy it as a standalone if necessary.
From the start, it's clear that Sam isn't an ordinary boy as he practises 'hyskosk peth' or braintrilloquism in his room, worried his Gran won't be impressed with his lack of progress. However, his plans to spend the last part of his school holidays with her are thwarted when his mother announces they are going on holiday with another family, the Hollinghursts. They are to stay in a remote cottage in Wales and his mum tells him she has always wanted to visit the nearby Ragman's Hollow. Gran's impromptu visit just before they leave doesn't go well and it seems that the relationship between the two women in Sam's life is strained. It's also very obvious that Gran believes that going to Ragman's Hollow is a terrible idea but Mrs Jones refuses to heed her warnings, angrily dismissing them as superstitious nonsense.
It will come as little surprise to learn which of the two women was correct but the first few chapters of the book are more concerned with an entirely different type of horror for Sam - namely, the Hollinghursts; Hester and her two children, Zedrick and Vilma. I'm sure many children reading this will have stories about their parents or carers nagging them about too much screen time, eating healthy meals or doing their homework. The appalling Hester, though is on a whole new level when it comes to authoritarian parenting. Sam's first impressions of her aren't favourable as she insists he wears shorts instead of jeans then bans him from computer games and his phone on their long journey to the cottage but over the course of the next few days, she becomes unbearable. It's hard to fathom why Mrs Jones would be friends with such an awful woman in the first place let alone continue to accept her domineering behaviour and I must admit to finding Sam's mother a rather frustrating figure for much of the book. Zedrick and Vilma are almost as bad; unkind bullies who are no company at all for poor Sam.
An ill-fated visit to Ragman's Hollow changes everything and it's from this point that the novel becomes much darker. Although it is a children's book, The Curse of Ragman's Hollow features really unsettling concepts and a terrifying enemy. As the story progresses there are some potentially frightening scenes and a few that are surprisingly emotional so I would exercise caution with younger children or those who are more sensitive. Young readers who enjoy a chilling tale with a likeable and relatable protagonist are in for a cracking time, however, and will particularly enjoy the parts where Sam needs to call on all his bravery and cunning. I read the book to my daughter who said she would have enjoyed more of the tenser parts of the novel and a little less of the domestic drama but there's no doubt that there is a particularly gratifying scene towards the end of the book which should please people.
The Curse of Ragman's Hollow is a gripping and scary adventure story with some surprises and intriguing touches of magic - or as it's called here - cunning. I enjoyed reading it aloud, which isn't always the case with middle-grade fiction and look forward to more Merryweather Mysteries in the future.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog blitz, details are below.

The Curse of Ragman's Hollow is published by Wyrmwood Books and can be purchased here or see below for a chance to win a signed copy.

Please note: This giveaway is courtesy of Rachel's Random Resources and in no way the responsibility of Hair Past A Freckle.

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of the Merryweathers Mysteries series (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the
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About the Author

Rhys A Jones was born in 1955 and grew up in a mining village in South Wales with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He managed to subdue his imagination long enough to carve out a career in medicine, writing whenever the chance arose. The Merryweathers mysteries feature a boy and his more-than-meets-the-eye Granny Merryweather. The Curse of Wihtlea Barrows (previously the Dreables) and The Curse of Borage Doone have just been released as paperbacks with new covers and a new publisher (Wyrmwood). The third in the series entitled The Curse of Ragman's Hollow is now available at last.
Rhys is currently writing The Artefact Quintet featuring eleven-year-old Oz Chambers whose family inherits a ‘haunted’ house. His mother wants to leave, but Oz wants to unlock the house’s mysteries and uncovers a secret that will change his life forever.
Rhys also writes for adults as DC Farmer and Dylan Young
He has three grownup children who have emerged remarkably unscathed into adulthood. When not writing, he practices medicine and lives in darkest West Wales with his understanding (very) wife and dog.
Oh, and the Rhys is pronounced Reece–as in the actor Rhys Ifans of Mr Lovegood (Harry Potter) and The Lizard (The Amazing Spiderman) fame. Or perhaps it’s easier if you just think of Reece Witherspoon, though she is a lady.
FROM WIKI:Rhys / ri s/[1] is ˈ ː
a Welsh given name (usually male), famous in Welsh history, a surname of Welsh origin that means “Dragon“, “fervour”, “passion”, “ultimate strength”, “king” or “zeal”
It was also my dad’s name! The name is also anglicised as Rice, Rees, Reese and Reece.
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  1. Karen,

    Thanks so much for taking the trouble to review Ragman's. It is much appreciated. Sam's mother, I think, has been a little jealous of his relationship with his grandmother. And so anti-cunning, she has been determined to be seen to be doing all the (misconceived) right things--for all the wrong reasons. This has been a theme through the series. I'm hoping, after Ragman's, that she has seen the light. Hope, too, that I didnt scare your daughter too much:).
    Best wishes,

    1. You're very welcome. I warmed towards Mrs Jones by the end of the book and understood her more but didn't want to give too much away in my review! My daughter loves anything dark and chilling so definitely not scared - we enjoyed sharing the story together :)


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