REVIEW: "The Waiting Room", by F.G. Cottam

  • Title: The Waiting Room
  • Author: F.G. Cottam
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 34 minutes
  • Format: Unabridged Audiobook
  • Publisher: AudioGO Ltd.
  • Audible Release Date: 3 Jun 2011

Taken from Audible

The waiting room stands on a crumbling railway platform at the edge of a retired rock star's vast estate. Abandoned to dereliction and isolated by a moat of thorny wilderness, it used to be a playground for his children. Until strange music and the terrifying spectre of a leering soldier frightened them away. Julian Creed is TV's most popular ghost hunter. Only his small production team knows he is a complete fake who doesn't even believe in the paranormal. Until he spends one night in the waiting room.


I bought this on a bit of a whim as I finished one audiobook and wasn't willing to wait until the end of the month for a new one! I know I have a To Be Read pile that's taller than I am, but I'm officially an audiobook addict and the act of tackling the TBR pile seemed too daunting at the time (even with the 2012 TBR Reading Challenge there to spur me on).

These days there's an abundance of horror for a reading audience to sink their teeth into, but little of it really creeps me out. In choosing The Waiting Room, I was hoping for a back to basics ghost story that would remind me of Henry James or Susan Hill. I can't say I was thrilled with what I got, but I wasn't exactly disappointed, either. 

The premise of Cottam's work isn't hugely original: a ghost-hunter who doesn't believe in ghosts is sent to spend a night in a haunted waiting room. However, it's the sort of idea that I like. I wanted to be frightened and the idea provided the opportunity for just that. 

There were moments in the book when the description of the hauntings really did raise goosebumps on my arms. Admittedly I made the mistake of listening to parts of this at night... if you're going to invest in this to be frightened by it, then listen to it on a cold, windy night while your other half, parents, pets etc. are out. Then it's freaky! If this had been a short story or novella, I think it might have worked better for me. What let it down was the characterisation. I had absolutely no idea when this was set! Everyone spoke in the same old-fashioned, very English dialect (very Henry James, in fact...) and there was barely any variation between the different characters. 

Furthermore, the plot concealed an area of conflict between Creed (the paranormal investigator) and his love-interest assistant. I was on tenterhooks to find out what the "big deal" was between them... what had happened in their past to be such a hindrance to their continuing relationship?! I hate spoiling things, but I wish someone had been there to tell me not to get my hopes up about the drama! When the crucial incident of their past was revealed I was listening to the audiobook in a shop. I caught myself glaring furiously at a cashier as I was so annoyed and frustrated with what I was listening to. I apologised, of course, and skedaddled! 

This is one of those books which I used to tide me over until my Audible credit arrives tomorrow. It was enjoyable enough, but I've already forgotten half of the characters' names. I liked the Wilfred Owen references as I'm a fan of his poetry...but later on in the book his ghostly echoes become heavy-handed and end up taking you out of the creepy suspense of the tale. It wasn't a total loss. I think I paid £5.99 for this on sale and it was worth that. If I had spent my monthly credit on it though, I think I would have been disappointed. 

Not bad, not great. Fairly enjoyable on the whole!

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