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3.5 out of 5 stars129
3.5 out of 5 stars
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2000
A masterpiece in which Susan Hill tells a story that has always been a reality for so many young people. Reflecting back on my time studying this book at GCSE level over five years ago, I'm overcome with emotion every time I flick throughout the pages and remember the emotional torture that each of the two boys are subjected to by parents that are too wrapped up in self-interest to foresee that inevitable tragedy that occurs as Kingshaw escapes the cruelty of circumstance.
A masterpiece comparable to 'Lord of the Flies' and perhaps even 'Catcher in the Rye'. As an adult, understood fully, this book will serve to remind you, or make you more aware of the despair that is felt by children when love is subtly overshadowed by selfish intentions.
Children might relate to the trauma experienced by the young characters and be comforted by the fact that more often than not, they are right in perceiving that parents don't understand.
My thanks to Susan Hill for showing me how a novel is more than words and paper, and giving me the gift of literature.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2013
I read this book on Kindle and my reading experience was totally runined by the huge amounts of errors. Nearly every page has spelling mistakes, words missing, punctuation errors, totally the wrong word...the list goes on. I do not recommend the Kindle addition of this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2013
This is a fantastic book but I do not know how it was transferred into ebook format. It is absolutely riddled with mistakes from start to finish. A monkey with a typewriter could have done a better job.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2013
Love the story; Hill is an amazing writer but there were numerous transcription errors in the kindle version that really let it down.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2004
This is a book with a disturbing ending although it certainly food for thought. It is a common belief that 'children will always get along' as Mrs Helena Kingshaw states, a character in the book meaning that their problems with each other can never be s serious that they won't one day be resolved. This book explores the true nature of the horror and evil that a child can experience at the hands of the other. The book is very rich and the actual writing is excellent. Susan Hill is very talented.
This book is a realistic gripping tale of desperation, lonliness and isolation that is possible through childhood. I strongly recommend it. This tale will linger in the mind long after it has been read and has provided me at least with a new outlook on life. however it is not for the light hearted
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very good but slightly anachronistic in style as the story appears to be set in the 1960s but is written in a style reminiscent of the beginning of the 20th Century. It shows that children and their emotions can be easily and tragically ignored by adults who seem to have lost the ability to empathise , believe and relate to their problems. When Charles Kingshaw ( aged 11 ) and his widowed mother move into "Warings" ( a victorian country house ) to be housekeeper to Edmund ( also aged 11 ) and his father the immediate hatred between the two boys, engineered by a jealous Edmund , can only lead to tragedy. Edmund's constant goading and bullying of Charles is ignored and disregarded by his mother and nothing Charles can do will prevent the inevitable outcome. Strong emotions are evoked and I expect most people can relate in some degree to the events and emotions portrayed in this excellent novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 November 2014
An absolutely riveting, heart-rending read, that I got through in one afternoon. Totally gets into the mind of young children - the pleasure for the bully and the inescapable torment for the victim - mocked if he is seen to cry, disbelieved by his elders...

When 11 year old Charles Kingshaw and his widowed mother go to live and keep house for wealthy Mr Hooper and his similarly aged son, it seems (to the adults) an ideal arrangement. But young Edmund Hooper's relentless mental bullying of this boy he sees as an intruder is brilliantly depicted.
I started this thinking it was well written but couldn't quite see how it justified being a GCSE text - but as I got further into it, this became very evident. Fantastic read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
I found this book very thought provoking, not in quite the same mould as all the other Susan Hill books I have read.
The relationship between the two boys is very disturbing and seems to drag you into their world. I can understand the comments Susan Hill makes when she says that some people hate it ( a bit like Marmite) and others like it. You can almost picture the parents and feel their desparation at their unhappy and unfulfilled lives, and their inadequate feelings for themselves and their respective children.
The ending is one of those things that you should have seen coming but pretended something better was going to happen.
It is in my oppinion a well written book even though it wasn't what I expected.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2000
This book is very exciting and keeps you entertained the whole way through. The relationship between Kingshaw and Hooper is icy which never changes during the book. The power of who is leader changes slightly, but Hooper is very much in charge for the greater amount of time. When Kingshaw invades his privacy he vows to get rid of him and be 'King of the Castle' again. When Hooper has an accident Kingshaw believes that he has won but Hooper returns and is soon back on his feet. This leads Kingshaw to the enevitable, which you end up waiting for through the whole book. I thorougly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone.
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on 20 June 2014
In my just-teens at school we read Lord of the Flies. My class was split roughly 50:50 into those who loved it and those who hated it. It was an all-girls school so the division had nothing to do with gender. A straw poll of adults who read the book at the same age (my hubby, his family and my family) showed more or less the same split.

If my reading group is anything to go by then I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill is similarly a marmite book. I’m not claiming it’s on a par with Golding’s classic but if you loved Lord of the Flies then it’s a safe bet you’ll like this, too.

When his widowed mother, Helena, is taken on as live-in house-keeper by widower Joseph Hooper, ten year old Charles Kingshaw is thrust into the company of Mr Hooper’s son, Edmund, also ten. Edmund (Hooper) resents the intrusion into his home and begins a campaign of bullying Charles (Kingshaw) from the day he arrives.

What’s interesting, though, is that this isn’t a simple case of strong boy picking on weak boy. Kingshaw is actually the more physically capable of the two. In an early encounter he attacks and punches Hooper. Later he catches a fish with his hands from a pool in Hang Wood, and climbs the walls of Leydell Castle; when Hooper does these things he slips and seriously injures himself both times.

But although Kingshaw has the physical strength, he lacks the emotional strength to cope with Hooper. He is scared by the strength of his own hatred for Hooper and what it might drive him to do. The fact that his mother is employed by Hooper’s father and they are living in Hooper’s home gives Hooper the upper hand.

Hill has written that the book is about lack of love. Both parents have lost their spouses; neither of them seem to know or relate to their own child on any meaningful level. They force the boys together and assume they are best friends because it suits them to believe it, ignoring signs to the contrary. When they decide to marry (for expediency, it seems) and to send Kingshaw to Hooper’s boarding school...I won’t give away the ending but let’s just say the four of them don’t live together happily ever after.

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