From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Waters (The Night Watch
) reflects on the collapse of the British class system after WWII in a stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House
. Doctor Faraday, a lonely bachelor, first visited Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked as a parlor maid, at age 10 in 1919. When Faraday returns 30 years later to treat a servant, he becomes obsessed with Hundreds's elegant owner, Mrs. Ayres; her 24-year-old son, Roderick, an RAF airman wounded during the war who now oversees the family farm; and her slightly older daughter, Caroline, considered a natural spinster by the locals, for whom the doctor develops a particular fondness. Supernatural trouble kicks in after Caroline's mild-mannered black Lab, Gyp, attacks a visiting child. A damaging fire, a suicide and worse follow. Faraday, one of literature's more unreliable narrators, carries the reader swiftly along to the devastating conclusion. (May)
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At its core, The Little Stranger is an old-fashioned ghost story, complete with spooky house, eccentric inhabitants, an air of general madness and malcontent, and a narrator who may not be as mild-mannered as he seems. What elevates this novel from the crowded genre is Waters’s ability to evoke the subtleties of the past as she skillfully weaves tension and dread into each paragraph. The reviewer from Newsday likened this tale to the psychological classic The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Perhaps the critic from the Telegraph (who voiced only a very minor complaint about the ending) summed up the reviewers’ opinions best of all by hailing this novel as a genuinely creepy story “guaranteed to make anyone with a pulse gibber in fright.”
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