The Haunted Hills
The Haunted Hills was published by UCLan on 6 October 2022. Buy from Amazon.
Published by UCLan, 6 October 2022, ISBN 978-1912979936.
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Out of the corner of my eye I can see something moving in the yard outside. I know it’s my reflection in the window. It has to be. But I daren’t look again. I’ve gone cold.
Jack should be here. He should be here.
Lyrical and thoughtful, The Haunted Hills explores the intensity of adolescent male friendship with panache. [link]
Literary Review December 2022
‘The Haunted Hills’ is a beautifully told, multi-layered story that subtly connects the emotional landscape of the characters with the physical landscapes of hills and moor, and the older stories which inhabit them. Berlie Doherty has created characters that readers will connect with and recognise and a narrative that will haunt, in the very best of ways.
‘The Haunted Hills’ – a brief summary
The Haunted Hills has been shortlisted for the York Award.
Carl is struggling to come to terms with personal tragedy. His parents bring him away to the countryside to help him recover, but local stories of the Lost Lad who wanders the moors begin to haunt him. Is there really a ghost up in the Derbyshire hills, or is Carl losing his grip on reality?
I’m wrestling with the wind as I fold up the map. I want to look again at those words. I want to make sure, but I daren’t. Lost Lad. Lost Lad. So it’s true. It’s real.
My inspiration for ‘The Haunted Hills’
There are many stories, true and fanciful, strange and unsettling, about the hilly area known as the Peak District, where I live. Just south of my home is the White Peak, with soft pale limestone hills and deep dales. My home is in the Dark Peak, where the Pennine Hills rise into craggy gritstone tors surrounded by miles of boggy moors. I have been inspired by them for nearly all of my writing life.
Many tales, true and imagined, are told about these Peaks. They are ancient and current stories of people lost and injured in the boggy moors, of dripping caverns, of crashed planes, of hauntings and unsolved mysteries.
A haunting read, Garner-esque. A beautiful book, in all ways.
There are three main characters in The Haunted Hills. Carl comes to the Dark Peak against his will. He hates it, hates the brooding landscape and the quietness and emptiness. His parents have brought him because he has a deep sadness inside him and needs peace and rest to recover from his psychological hurt.
Joseph is a shepherd boy who died in the hills many years ago. He is known locally as the lost lad, and there’s a hill named after him. Lost Lad Hill. Some say his story is true, some say it never happened. I have known about the lost lad nearly all my life, and have never found out whether or not he really existed. Almost, it doesn’t matter any more. He’s a ghost now. That’s how stories work.
The third main character is the landscape itself; the farmland is rough and wild, scattered with hardy sheep and cattle. Derwent Edge, which draws Carl again and again like a magnet, is beautiful, rocky, dangerous, inviting, and often swathed in mists. The landscape controls the moods of the people who live and work and wander here.
Then there’s Jack. Jack haunts the pages of the book, just as the lost lad, Joseph, haunts the moors. Jack is Carl’s best friend, and will never be forgotten.
And also the strange girl, April, who helps on the farm down the lane. What does she know, and what does she believe, about the lost lad?
And lastly, Julius Ferrero, the cleverest and most dangerous boy in the school. He ruined a great friendship. He ruined two lives.
A gripping tale of fiery childhood friendship, loss and healing. Elegantly written, hugely atmospheric.
The beautiful front and back covers, inside and out, and the inside illustrations, are by the artist Tamsin Rosewell.
Tamsin has been a bookseller for 15 years, with a specialist knowledge in children’s and illustrated books. She is also known for her painted window displays.
As a bookseller, Tamsin is a regular panel speaker and festival event chair, as well as being judge of the Stratford Salariya Picture Book Prize. She has been on the advisory panel for Pathways into Publishing, and a Reader for BookTrust’s Book Buzz programme.
Tamsin lectures regularly to Publishing and Creative Writing Masters students, and is part of University College London’s Bookselling Research Network.
She also works as an illustrator; as well as creating the cover art for The Haunted Hills, her recent work includes the cover of The Billow Maiden by James Dixon, and full picture book illustrations for The Wish Gatherers by Karin Celestine.
In addition to creating book cover art, she is an artist for The Blake Society, an international literary society dedicated to the work of William Blake; her work is regularly seen in their publications.
Before becoming a bookseller, Tamsin spent 20 years as a researcher in parliament, on Whitehall and in the City. She is based at 55 year old independent bookshop, Kenilworth Books but divides her time between London, Oxford and Warwickshire. She can be found on Twitter at @autumnrosewell and her illustration work is on Instagram as @hobs_lantern.
Copyright: Tamsin Rosewell illustrator and UCLan Publishing. If you’d like to use these images, please let us know by contacting me or UCLan Publishing.
Full of atmosphere and hauntingly told. Doherty’s words transport the reader to the mist covered hills where the past helps to reveal the truth of the present.
‘The Haunted Hills’ featured in the Just Imagine podcast
I was interviewed about The Haunted Hills by Nikki Gamble, for the In the Reading Corner podcast on the Just Imagine website.
Nikky introduces some of my earlier work, but the main body of the podcast is to do with The Haunted Hills, its sense of place, the narrative and the characters, and my relationship with Derbyshire, where the novel is set.