I just finished reading This House Is Haunted by John Boyne. I found it on Amazon when I was browsing for books, and then requested it through the library network. I did not recognize the author at first, but then I later realized that he also wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. He has written several other books for both children and adults.
I am not always a fan of ghost stories. I will admit to being a scaredy cat. But, I love 19th century England, so I gave this book a chance, and I’m glad I did.
At the beginning of the book, Eliza Caine’s father dies, and it is all Charles Dickens’ fault. Mr. Caine reads about an appearance by the great author taking place in London, and since it is not too far from their home, he and Eliza make plans to go. But the weather is poor, and Mr. Caine’s health is already poor, and he falls ill and does not recover.
In an impulsive move, Eliza applies for a governess position in Norfolk. She is accepted, and sets out for Gaudlin Hall, her new home. She finds two children, but there are no servants- or any adults, for that matter. No one in the village wants to talk about the house, and strange things begin to happen to Eliza. She doggedly pursues the family lawyer for information, and she begins to feel a foreboding sense of dread whenever she is in the house. Something in the house does not want her there.
I am getting goosebumps right now, and that is a testament to the quality of this story. Boyne does a marvelous job of building suspense. The villagers’ refusal to discuss the grand house and its inhabitants kept me guessing the circumstances leading up to Eliza’s arrival- what had happened? And what will happen to Eliza?
The one thing that I did find strange was the skepticism that Eliza receives when she suggests that there is a nefarious presence in the house. I’ve read a lot of books that take place in 19th century, and spiritualism and séances grew in popularity during the Victorian era.
I thoroughly enjoyed This House is Haunted, and I would recommend this book to others. It has everything a good ghost story needs- intrepid heroine, creepy old house, creepy kids, sullen groundskeeper, and villagers who don’t like answering questions. Despite the supernatural storyline, everything was entirely believable, and that’s what made it so terrifying!
If you would like the book, you can check it out here: