Customer Reviews


60 Reviews
5 star:
 (21)
4 star:
 (21)
3 star:
 (13)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Atmospheric and Creepy Tale of the Supernatural
With the intriguing opening sentence: "I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father" the reader learns how Eliza Caine, a young schoolteacher, struggles to cope with the loss of her father when he succumbs to a fever after an unwise trip in bad weather to see the famous author, Charles Dickens, speak at a venue in London. Eliza, as she tells us in her first-person...
Published 11 months ago by Susie B

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Okay Ghost Story
I did find this book quite an enjoyable, and it must be admitted a fast paced read, and it obviously falls into those books inspired by ‘The Turn of the Screw’. Eliza Caine takes on a new post after her father dies, to become the governess at Gaudlin Hall. Eliza soon realises after she feels a pair of hands trying to push her under a train and that there is...
Published 6 days ago by M. Dowden


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Atmospheric and Creepy Tale of the Supernatural, 24 April 2013
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Hardcover)
With the intriguing opening sentence: "I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father" the reader learns how Eliza Caine, a young schoolteacher, struggles to cope with the loss of her father when he succumbs to a fever after an unwise trip in bad weather to see the famous author, Charles Dickens, speak at a venue in London. Eliza, as she tells us in her first-person narrative, is not a beauty; in fact she is very plain and, as such, she feels that marriage is unlikely to be an option that is available to her. Having lost not just her only surviving relative, Eliza is also suffering from the loss of her father's income and it is soon apparent to her that, in order to survive, Eliza will have to rely on her own resources. Therefore, when she sees an advertisement for the post of governess, required to start work immediately at Gaudlin Hall, in Norfolk, Eliza hastily decides to leave her London life behind and make a fresh start and, hopefully, a new life for herself.

Arriving in Norfolk, after a rather frightening incident at the train station, where she almost falls in front of an approaching train, Eliza is surprised when she arrives at Gaudlin Hall and finds two children: twelve-year-old Isabella Westerley, and her brother, eight-year-old Eustace, waiting for her in what appears to be an empty house. Deciding to investigate this unusual situation the next day, Eliza retires to her room looking forward to a good night's sleep, but as she stretches out her tired, aching body in the huge bed, something very strange and alarming happens which she can only explain to herself as the consequence of her being overwrought and overtired. However, that night's disturbance is just the start of a whole series of weird and frightening experiences that cannot be easily explained away, and it gradually becomes clear to Eliza that there is a malign presence in the house. As Eliza pieces together information from the Westerley family's solicitor, Mr Raisin, the vicar, Reverend Deacons and Doctor Toxley and his wife, Madge, she realises that she will need to gather all her strength and powers of reasoning to protect herself and her charges from the sinister and evil presence at Gaudlin Hall.

This novel which has a certain gothic feel to it - think paler shades of Charlotte Bronte/Henry James/Charles Dickens - makes for an unsettling, absorbing and entertaining read. Eliza is a very sympathetic character and it is difficult not to make comparisons between her and Jane Eyre - very plain in appearance, outwardly sensible, but with a passionate heart burning beneath; and the other characters - some of which are unashamedly Dickensian - are colourfully portrayed, from Mr Raisin's clerk, Mr Cratchett (yes, really) to the elusive Mrs Livermore, and the gruesome stableman, Heckling. The author, John Boyne, is rather successful with the narration of his story in the voice of a young, unmarried Victorian woman, and although there were a few inaccuracies (and the author's editor should have noticed that in the 1860s women would normally have worn shawls for additional warmth, not cardigans) I found it was easy to become immersed in this atmospheric and creepy tale of the supernatural. I started reading this when I arrived home from work and just carried on until I had turned the last page - it's eerie enough to unsettle you, but not so terrifyingly sinister that it will keep you awake at night too frightened to turn off the light!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This House is Haunted, 14 April 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Eliza Caine is a young woman, who lives in London with her father. He works in a museum and she teaches in a school for girls; their lives uneventful but happy. However, when her father dies suddenly, Eliza decides on impulse to answer a newspaper advertisement for a governess in Norfolk. To her surprise, she is offered the post with what seems great haste and, almost before she has time to consider, she is on a train and leaving her old life behind. However, on arrival at the fog shrouded station, unseen hands attempt to push her underneath a train...

This is not a very original tale, but it is well written and draws you in. There are lots of references to other authors and novels; from the clerk named after Scrooge’s own, who claims never to have read Dickens, to the two withdrawn and slightly odd children, Isabella and Eustace, who remind you immediately of “The Turn of the Screw,” and they are fun to spot. There is everything you could want from a ghost story – the taciturn carriage driver, locals who turn quiet when Eliza mentions she is the new governess at Gaudlin Hall, a whole host of family secrets and, of course, a malevolent presence. However, Eliza is a young lady who takes her responsibilities seriously and she does not intend to be driven away. Ideal for those who like their ghost stories creepy, rather than frightening, but with excellent characters and a good story. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Okay Ghost Story, 10 April 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Paperback)
I did find this book quite an enjoyable, and it must be admitted a fast paced read, and it obviously falls into those books inspired by ‘The Turn of the Screw’. Eliza Caine takes on a new post after her father dies, to become the governess at Gaudlin Hall. Eliza soon realises after she feels a pair of hands trying to push her under a train and that there is no one there, that something odd is happening. As Eliza arrives at Gaudlin Hall she soon finds that there are mysteries, and things that she isn’t being told.

As things progress, Eliza soon finds that although she enjoys the company of the two children in her ward, she herself seems to be in danger from supernatural forces. As an enjoyable ghost story then this is okay, but it also is set in 1867 and thus would also fall into the historical novel category, which is when things start to unravel. There is no author’s note saying that things have been altered for the sake of storytelling, and so we find no excuse for certain facts being completely erroneous.

When Charles Dickens gives one of his public readings in this book, and starts one particular story that will soon be published, this is quite erroneous. The story started here is ‘The Signalman’ which was published in All The Year Round as the Christmas special of 1866, which is one of the tales that make up Mugby Junction. It is hardly a new story that will be published, when it was published the year before. The hanging that is mentioned in this book would probably have been public, as it was general until 1898 when Parliament passed an act making them within prison walls. The hanging would have taken place at Norwich Castle, and not prison as is stated in this book, because it wasn’t there at the time, indeed it was something like twenty years later that it was completed.

So if you are looking for an enjoyable ghost story that will pass a few hours in entertainment, that is quite good, then you should enjoy this. If you expect more from your story when it is set in a particular place and time, and expect details to be correct, then you will be disappointed.

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too predictable, 16 July 2013
By 
Amanda Horan (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Hardcover)
It was the cover that first drew me to this book. Yes I am that shallow. I've never read a John Boyne novel before so I decided to take a chance on it

From reading other reviews I see that some people found the story too predictable. It is a little predictable. You won't find any major plot twists and turns here. However the writing was immersive enough to keep me reading.

I just wish the author had gone one step further. Suspense is an important ingredient in horror and this book certainly delivers during Elsiza's first few hours at Gaudlin. Unfortunately It just doesn't last.

It's not very satisfying to have a novel lead you to a point where you say to yourself "oh so that was it". I think it would have been more interesting to develop Isabella's character a little more. There was certainly potential for her to have more of role within the story.

Still, even with its faults I did enjoy reading this novel. It brought back memories of the ghost stories we told each other as children at Halloween.

[...]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy ghost story, 15 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have never read any of John Boyne's novels before, but this will certainly not be my last.

It's a very creepy ghost story but not enough to terrify you enough to sleep with the lights on, which is fine by me!

The writing is just superb, with Gothic undertones to the whole proceedings. It also had a slight Bronte / Du Maurier (Rebecca) feel to it, for reasons that will become obvious when you read the book.

I did like Eliza Caine, our heroine, and her deep love for her father, and his for her, but I found the most of the characters, including the children, quite disturbing. I particularly liked the solicitors clerk being called Cratchett, which was a very quirky touch seeing as it starts with Eliza talking about Charles Dickens.

Very good and, as I say, superbly written.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping old fashioned ghost tale, 5 Jun 2013
By 
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Hardcover)
When Eliza Caine's father dies and leaves her indigent, she has no alternative but to seek work. She responds to an advertisement placed by H Bennet and applies for a post as governess at Gaudlin Hall in Norfolk. Almost immediately upon her arrival, she finds herself in an odd situation. There seem to be no adults in the home - only two children, Isabella and Eustace, yet they are expecting her and well cared for. Over the following days, she senses the presence of a malicious spirit who is determined to harm or even kill her. Yet, the ghost has met its match with Eliza, for she is determined to stay and protect the children even if it means she might die in the attempt.

I devoured this novel in one day. It was an easy read, full of exciting twists and turns, and told through the narrative of a very intriguing protagonist. Eliza is not your typical heroine. She is unattractive, destitute, and with little hope for a future filled with love and family. What made her compelling was her fortitude, her curiosity to search for reasons and information, her willingness to die in order to do what is right, her love for the children. And as each secret and the ghost's motive is revealed, the story grows more profound and interesting.

The Victorian setting in an old manner house is very appealing. This story has much to make it a worthy read. It's a lovely, old-fashioned ghost story and I highly recommend it as a great summer escape!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Why didn't you say something? Why didn't you speak? Why didn't you warn me?", 30 Oct 2013
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Hardcover)
(3.5 stars) In this Dickensian melodrama, set outside of Norfolk, England, in 1867, twenty-one-year-old Eliza Caine decides to leave the family home in London to accept the position of governess for a family she does not know in a city she has never seen. Just the previous week, her father had ignored her pleas that he remain at home to nurse a bad cold and had, instead, attended a reading by Charles Dickens on a miserable, rainy night. He succumbed to fever shortly afterward. Eliza then learns that the family home is not, in fact, owned by the family, and that she will have to vacate it. Seeing an advertisement in the newspaper for a governess, signed by "H. Bennet," which reminds her of the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice, she immediately leaves her current teaching job at a girls' school and moves to Norfolk.

From the beginning of the novel, Irish author John Boyne draws parallels between Dickens' work and his own. The Dickens reading, which Eliza and her father attend, is of a ghost story Dickens wrote for a mazazine, "a most terrifying tale...of the paranormal, of the undead, of those pitiful creatures who wander the afterlife in search of eternal reconciliation," according to Dickens. Eliza, vulnerable to suggestion, has recently seen another face just below her own in her mirror, a face resembling that of her deceased mother and which she sees again as she walks to hear Dickens.

Boyne's story about the inhabitants of Gaudlin Hall, the estate to which Eliza is traveling, directly parallels much of what Charles Dickens has included in the story he has read to his audience, and many clichés of spooky Victorian novels are repeated here. Eliza arrives by train during a dense fog. Upon arrival in Norfolk, she collides with the "H.Bennet" who advertised for the governess position that she has accepted and who is now racing to catch the train back to London. She also learns that there is no Master of the house. Two children, Isabella Westerley, a twelve-year-old with a "mistress-of-the-house expression on her face," and Eustace, her innocent eight-year-old brother, are the children she will teach, and except for a mean-spirited gardener; a Mrs. Livermore who arrives every day, presumably with food, and who then vanishes; and Mr. Raison, the Westerley family lawyer (whose secretary is named Mr. Cratchett), Eliza is the only other adult at Gaudlin Hall. She soon discovers, however, that there are "presences" at Gaudlin which are trying to kill her, just as they also did with her five predecessors during the past year.

Boyne's goal here is pure entertainment, and he matches his prose style to that of Dickens effectively, though in one case, after a question, one finds the forced archaism, "Answer came there none." All the clichés of Victorian plot appear here, and the dramatic and inexplicable actions by "presences" create an atmosphere of doom which will keep a smile on the face of readers familiar with the novels of the period. The characters are vehicles for the plot, rather than compelling personalities in their own right, and the lack of realism throughout is exactly what one expects of a Victorian ghost story. Only a dark twist in the conclusion takes this novel into more modern times, stylistically.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Creaking of Henry James., 24 Jun 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Hardcover)
Very well written and atmospheric. I couldn't come to terms with the 'acceptance' by the Main Character of the continual events. The children did resemble those of Henry James and it did 'creak' of Henry James too.
References to Charles Dickens were well described and we were taken there to feel the atmosphere of his 'theatre'.
If I had any negative comments to make, it would be that we are not really shown the Main Character, what she wears etc., so I couldn't really see her, although other characters were pretty well described - this spoiled it a little for me, but overall I found the story a page turner, and in this respect the author had us wanting to know what happened next.
Three stars only, due to the lack of description of the main character.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 5 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Hardcover)
Really enjoyed this book, never read any of John Boyne's, but did like the film The Boy in the striped pyjama's. Living in Norfolk thought it would be good to read about one of the large houses here.
Well written, great in the garden with a glass of wine.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars This House is Haunted, 15 April 2014
By 
C. Colley (Lincs) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This House is Haunted is set in 1867 and the story surrounds Eliza Caine, a young woman who moves to Norfolk to take up a post as a governess to two children. After the grief of losing her father, Eliza decides to have a fresh start. However, no sooner has Eliza arrived at Gaudlin Hall, she discovers that things are not what she expected. Eliza finds herself involved with a mysterious family and living in a creepy hall that holds many secrets.
This is a good old fashioned ghost story with a strong central character and an atmospheric setting. The plot unfolds steadily, and whilst it's not edge of your seat gripping, there's enough tension and intrigue to keep the story engaging all the way through.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xb58696a8)

This product

Only search this product's reviews