Written in Dickensian prose, This House Is Haunted is a striking homage to the classic nineteenth century ghost story. Set in Norfolk in 1867, Eliza Caine responds to an ad for a governess position at Gaudlin Hall. When she arrives at the hall, shaken by an unsettling disturbance that occurred during her travels, she is greeted by the two children now in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There is no adult present to represent her mysterious employer, and the children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, another terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.
From the moment Eliza rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence that lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realizes that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past. Clever, captivating, and witty, This House Is Haunted is pure entertainment with a catch.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Didn’t take me very long to decide that this book and I were going to have a great love affair. What did I love about it? There really wasn’t anything that I didn’t love about it. When the blurb described it as the classic nineteenth century ghost story, I was skeptical. There have been a lot of other books that made similar claims, and they have been a disappointment. I doubt anyone would be disappointed with this one.
I will not spend a lot of time going over events in this story as the blurb has taken care of that already. What made me love this book more than anything was that it was creepy and chilling rather than disgusting and horrifying. I have always enjoyed literature that revolves around a good mystery and this novel does. There was no need for gore and blood when the story itself was so well written. This is a book that the imagination of the reader can have fun with.
The way the plot twists and events unfold in this story is handled with grace. You may think you have things figured out, but along the way somewhere, Mr. Boyne will surprise you with something you weren’t expecting, thus changing your outlook on what is to happen next.
I was particularly enthralled with the strange dynamic between Isabella and her Brother Eustace. She was a curiosity throughout the entire story, as I was never sure if she was what she claimed to be. This made the story far more interesting.
The main character is introduced to the story in such a manner that you feel you have come to know her and much about her life before the rest of the book begins. This was lovely. I was concerned for her safety and stayed right with her throughout the entirety of the tale. She is a likable main character, strong, intelligent and able to command the attention of the reader. There is a hint of romance, but it does not consume the book.
The climax of this tale is worthy of being called a ghost story. Where many other books have failed at giving the reader a believable basis for why paranormal events would happen, this one succeeded. The plot is tight, makes sense and leaves you in anticipation of the final events. Even through the last word of the book I was hooked.
I definitely recommend this book. In fact, you should be reading this book instead of my review. Go…read. You will be happy you did.
Dickens would be proud, I believe.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided in agreement with Netgalley.