Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters)

Staying with the theme of "The Thirteenth Tale" (, "The Little Stranger" is a Victorian, English thriller that drips with suspense. We are first introduced to our male narrator, Dr. Faraday, who will competently take us through the story. He is called to Hundreds Hall, which once sang with grandiosity and now is just wasting away, to check on a new patient. Dr. Faraday has a history at Hundreds, as his mother worked there as a maid many years before.

Mrs. Ayers and her two grown children, Caroline and Roderick, own Hundreds and have vastly different opinions of what should be done with it in its ruin. The suspense builds as unexplained happenings begin to abound in the house. Caroline's dog, who has always had the easiest temperament, bites a child. Marks that cannot be explained begin to appear on walls. Fires begin with no cause. These events occur as Dr. Faraday finds himself increasingly entwined with the Ayers family at Hundreds.

"The Little Stranger" is not one of those books that need to be read with the doors locked and the lights on. The reader feels that something is just not quite right and has an eerie sense of foreboding....something is going to happen at some time, but what? Waters keeps the reader guessing throughout as her characters slowly drift into what possibly could be madness.

Don't expect the author to answer all of your questions. If you want to feel satisfied, this is not the book for you. It is purely psychological, and you are left to your own devices to figure things out.