Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This House is Haunted (John Boyne)

It's been awhile since I've actually had goosebumps and been in a constant state of anxiety while reading a book.  Congratulations John Boyne – This House is Haunted is exactly the type of novel one would expect from a title like that.  It's a good old fashioned ghost story set in the 1800s, and even Charles Dickens makes an appearance, however unfortunate.

After going through the unimaginable loss of the only relative she has left in the world, Eliza Caine decides to leave her life in London for a brand new start.  She answers a mysterious ad for a governess in a place she's never been, soon discovering that there are no parents there to meet her, just two children.  When unexplainable things start to happen that threaten her life, Eliza realizes that there is a force in the house that doesn't want her there.  Most people would just run in a situation like this, but Eliza's moral responsibility for the children is just too great.  The house is full of secrets, and Boyne reveals them slowly, delivering punch after punch.

Some reviewers have stated that this book is full of "haunted house" clichés, but I disagree.  Boyne has crafted a highly original and unbelievably scary tale that will keep you up at night.  And isn't that all you can really ask from a ghost story?