Review of This House is Haunted by John Boyne – 5 Stars

This House is HauntedThis House is Haunted by John Boyne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror

This book has been on my to-read pile for a long time and I don’t know what kept making me select others over it but boy do I regret that decision now. This book is brilliant. Such an enjoyable proper ghost story. Without all the gory bells and whistles that seem to fill this genre.

The story is pretty much as the blurb describes, the story follows that of Eliza Caine whose father has recently deceased. Following his death, Eliza accepts the role of governess at Gaudlin Hall. There she meets the remarkable children of Isabella and Eustace who appear to have no mother and no father present in the hall. All around her strange things are happening and Eliza is unsure if it is her own mourning playing on her mind, or the strange new environment or even the supposed orphans. No-one seems to give straight answers even when her life appears to be at risk. I will not give it away but the ending of this book is just superb. A proper old school eerie twist.

I always think it is useful to see an extract of an author’s writing and in this book, there are loads of great bits to choose from but I thought this one is quite interesting as a lot happens in a short space of time:

 

“…that I could stretch out as much as I wanted, and I did so, pleased to feel my aching limbs loosen up as they reached as far as they could, the toes dancing beneath the sheets, a sensation of the most delightful pleasure, until a pair of hands grabbed both my ankles tightly, the fingers pressing sharply against the bone, as they pulled me down into the bed…”

I just want to mention that I love historical fiction novels, this isn’t one but it is set in the past and Boyne does a brilliant job of bringing that Victorian-era world of trains, remote villages, Sunday church services and seaside day trips to life in a really enjoyable format.

John Boyne is probably most known for his book “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” and it is important to note that this book is nothing like that. It is excellent in its own right and I love that the author has written a very different book.

I have been trying to think of a modern writer whose writing is similar to this, and the only one that really springs to mind is Sarah Rayne. Traditional mystery and macabre type writing with a historic undertone.
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Know Your History – 30th April – John Boyne

know your history - writing

On this day… 30th April, 1971 – John Boyne born

 John Boyne (born 30 April 1971) is an Irish novelist. He is the author of nine novels for adults and four novels for younger readers including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas which was a New York Times no.1 Bestseller and was made into a Miramax feature film. It has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide. His novels are published in 48 languages.

Boyne is also a regular book reviewer for The Irish Times John Boyne quoteand has been a judge for both the Hennessy Literary Awards and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Boyne was born in Dublin, where he still lives. His first short story was published by the Sunday Tribune and in 1993 was shortlisted for a Hennessy Literary Award.

In 2012, Boyne was awarded the Hennessy Literary ‘Hall of Fame’ Award for his body of work. Boyne has also won 3 Irish Book Awards, for Children’s Book of the Year, People’s Choice Book of the Year and Short Story of the Year.

Did You Know?

John Boyne grew up gay in Catholic Dublin. If you read nothing else today please read this article in the guardian in which Boyne after years of silence, gives an honest and heartfelt insight of what it is like to be a young, gay teenager, embedded in the Catholic Church life and community. He also tells of his new novel were he found the strength to write not of the Catholic preist whom he hated and feared but the one who is the genuine preist that has given his life to doing good, but has found himself betrayed by the institution. A History of Loneliness sounds like an incredible read from the man who brought the world The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/03/john-boyne-novelist-catholic-church-abuse-priesthood-boy-in-striped-pyjamas