This House is Haunted
By John Boyne
(Other Press, Paperback, 9781590516799, October 2013, 304pp.)
The Short of It:
Lots of spooks to be had with this one.
The Rest of It:
I read this in October and the timing could not have been more perfect. Everyone wants a ghost story to read when October arrives, right? I stumbled around and tried some other books first and they didn’t have enough of a ghostly element to them. This one, I joked about, saying that it had too many ghosts. Well, turns out there is only one main ghost but who’s counting?
London, 1867. Eliza Caine, aged 21, is hired to care for two children, Isabella and her brother, Eustace at their home which goes by the name of Gaudlin Hall. A tragedy took place, a few years before Eliza arrives and she quickly realizes that she is only a number in a very long line of governesses. Several of whom have either died on the property or left. Puzzled by their lack of stamina, Eliza seeks out the other inhabitants of the house as well as the man in charge of the estate in an attempt to find out what really happened to the previous governesses. Eliza’s time at the house is further complicated by the strange happenings and the precocious nature of Isabella herself. But no matter what happens, she feels responsible for the children and refuses to leave.
Now this, is a ghost story! The house is creepy and the children are creepy and everyone in it is touched by ‘creep’ in some way. The story is a tad predictable but I was okay with that. I liked that Eliza wasn’t yet another twit walking across the threshold. She had substance and staying power and her deductions were not the far-fetched kind that a panicky woman makes. If you are the type to believe in ghosts, the story is plausible too which makes it all the more enjoyable.
Now for the not so good. It was a little slow and the ending seemed to come up rather suddenly but as a ghost story and my need/want for ‘creep’ at the time I read it, it fit the bill beautifully. It’s dark and atmospheric and would be good to read by a roaring fire with all of the windows and doors locked.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss
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