Review of This House is Haunted – John Boyne

Posted: August 14, 2014 in fantasy, horror, Review
Tags:

this house is haunted

I get the distinct impression that in some kind of reaction to much of the anachronism found in modern Victorian fantasy, Boyne has decided to give us a proper Dickensian ghost story. The problem with that is that it has been done before, many times over. I am told that “This House is Haunted” shares many plot elements with Henry James’ classic 1898 ghost story “The Turn of the Screw” and given the number of adaptations of said story, it’s no wonder that “This House is Haunted” seemed strangely familiar and all too predictable. That said, I must admit that it is very well written, capturing the Victorian turn of phrase much better than many works set in the period.

The central character’s behaviour does seem a little odd… why doesn’t she simply gather up the children and the other inhabitants of Gaudlin Manor and leave? The manor’s state of disrepair gives her a plausible reason. Get the place condemned and get out! And why does it take her so long to figure out the identity of the second ghost? I found the novel a tad boring, and the ending unsatisfying, which is a pity because it started so well and had so much potential.

Doubleday

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

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