From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-An updated version of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. Jack is separated from his girlfriend by her disapproving father, who arranges a summer job for the boy babysitting two orphaned children, Miles and Flora, on an isolated island. The story is narrated by Jack in a series of letters to Sophie that relate the increasingly odd happenings: people appear that no one else can see, Jack hears vague rumors of a strange death on the island last year, and the two children appear to be hiding secrets of their own. From the housekeeper, Jack learns of the previous nanny, Lucy, and her lover, Norris-now deceased-whose ghosts may be haunting the area. Prose includes all the elements of the Gothic ghost story as she masterfully establishes a brooding, dark tone: a cavernous mansion, a mysteriously locked room, eerily well-behaved children. At times, the epistolary format stretches credulity (such as Jack still writing after he breaks up with Sophie). However, letters that end on cliff-hangers heighten the suspense and keep the narrative moving at a breakneck pace. Though the ambiguous conclusion is spooky, readers will likely find the twist at the end of Adele Griffin's Tighter (Knopf, 2011), based on the same source material, far more satisfying. As with James's original story, Prose effectively establishes the protagonist as an unreliable narrator, though the voice of Griffin's wayward teenager is more convincing. Still, this is a gripping page-turner that even reluctant readers will have trouble putting down.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
About the Author
Francine Prose is the critically acclaimed author of nineteen novels, including the National Book Award Finalist Blue Angel and My New American Life. She has written three other novels for young adults: After, winner of the California Young Reader Medal, an IRA/CBC Young Adults' Choice, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; Bullyville, a PW Best Book and Book Sense Children's Pick; and her most recent, Touch. She is also the author of two picture books, Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig and Rhino, Rhino, Sweet Potato. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, Francine Prose was Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in New York City.