Other Press, 2013
arc, thank you, Other Press!
"...any story which concerns itself with the afterlife and with forces that the human mind cannot truly understand risks disquiet for the reader."
In the spirit of great timing, being released in the US this month is This House is Haunted, a perfect Halloween read, especially for people who appreciate and enjoy a good ghostly yarn or for those who find happiness in spending a few hours immersed in the supernatural. It incorporates a number of my favorite components, including a Victorian setting, a governess, an English country home, and of course, a ghost that has the run of the house and goes around scaring people half to death or worse. As in many well-written ghostly tales, there's also a mystery underlying the source of the haunting. Done before -- yes, for sure, but not like John Boyne does it here, where he's put together an entertaining ghost story by incorporating elements of various writers of the Victorian era, paying tribute to their works in his own. And it all starts with Dickens.
|Deborah Kerr, The Innocents|
Perhaps the ghost story is not as frightening as others I've read, although the ending is downright chilling, but for me what makes a tale of the supernatural work best is the aura of atmosphere that an author can produce and sustain throughout his/her story. That's definitely part and parcel of this novel, as the author sets the tension level on high with the villagers' silence, the servants who appear and disappear quietly, the house and the untended children, creepy happenings and the procession of governesses to name only a few things. To his credit, he doesn't let the backstory out all at once either, allowing his readers to pick up a little bit at a time until the whole mystery behind the haunting is revealed. This House is Haunted is perfect for people who enjoy a good ghost story once in a while. If you're thinking that you're going to get gore and splatter here, move along. It's not that kind of book. My advice -- go grab a copy and just have fun with it!