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REVIEW: The Toll House by Carly Reagon

Published: October 6th, 2022
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Ghost Story, Suspense, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook


The spine-tingling ghost story everyone is raving about.


The past isn’t always dead and buried.

A house with history. That’s how the estate agent described the old toll house on the edge of the town. For Kelda it’s the perfect rural home for her young son Dylan after a difficult few years.

But when Kelda finds a death mask concealed behind one of the walls, everything changes. Inexplicable things happen in the house, Kelda cannot shake the feeling of being watched and Dylan is plagued by nightmares, convinced he can see figures in his room. As Dylan’s behaviour becomes increasingly challenging, Kelda seeks answers in the house’s mysterious past. But she’s running out of time.

Because something has awoken.

And now it won’t rest . . .



“There’s something about this house… It feels weird… the house sort of feels alive.”

Kelda moves into the old toll house wth her six-year-old son, Dylan.  The rural home seems like the ideal place for a fresh start after a difficult few years, but when Kelda finds an old death mask hidden in a wall she is no longer so sure.  Then Dylan’s nightmares start, the young boy terrified of the figures he says he sees in his room, Kelda can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched and there are strange smells and a chill that they can’t erase.  Could there be something supernatural in their home?  And if so, what does it want?  Desperate for answers, Kelda begins to look into the mysterious past of the toll house to try and find out before it’s too late…

Unnerving, sinister and mesmerising, The Toll House is an outstanding debut.  I lost myself in its pages, so captivated by the creeping horror that I lost track of time and devoured ¾ of the book in one sitting and then thinking it might not have been the best idea to read such a scary story before heading to bed at 3am.  

“She was drowning in sorrow, in the terror of what had happened here, of whatever was lurking within these four walls.” 

Exquisitely written, the story starts steadily before building to an unbearable tension that sends shivers down your spine.  The characters are richly drawn and compelling, Kelda and Dylan are so easy to like and feel for while Joe is a more mysterious character that I became increasingly unsure of as the story went on.  The narration moves seamlessly between the past and present, its dual timelines adding an extra layer of suspense as the restless spirits of the past slowly reveal themselves, unravelling the truth of what is happening to Kelda and Dylan in the present.  I was on the edge of my seat, reading in breathless anticipation as it headed towards the jaw-dropping finale.  

So if you’re looking for an atmospheric, chilling and unsettling read for the spooky season, this is the book for you.  Nerve-jangling and hypnotic, The Toll House showcases Carly Reagon as a phenomenal new talent and an author to watch.  I’m excited to see what she writes next and will be buying it without hesitation after this magnificent debut.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



Carly Reagon is a writer and lecturer in healthcare sciences from Wales. Her work is inspired by her love of history, the rolling Welsh countryside, and all things spooky. In 2017 Carly completed the six month online novel writing course with Curtis Brown Creative and in 2019 she was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize. 



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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One reply on “REVIEW: The Toll House by Carly Reagon”

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