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This House is Haunted Paperback – 10 Apr 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (10 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552778427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552778428
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Wonderfully creepy…This magnificently eerie novel takes us on a skilful journey through fear" (Observer)

"A superior ghost story… Truly spine-tingling" (Mail On Sunday)

"A lesson in classic storytelling… Boyne takes us on a highly original, entertaining journey that, like all great ghost stories, saves its most unexpected twist for the very end" (Sunday Independent)

"Great fun…A constant barrage of surprises and the pace is terrific" (The Times)

Book Description

A chilling Dickensian ghost story by one of Ireland's finest writers.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed “This House is Haunted” but can’t pretend that it had me on the edge of my seat. To write an original and spine–chilling ghost story must be every bit as much of a challenge as to write a good erotic novel. In both the pitfalls are gaping.

To base the story on a governess and two children and to place the action in the midst of the nineteenth century points to no lack of bravery on the part of John Boyne. Comparison with James’ “The Turn of The Screw” in particular, not to mention “Jane Eyre” is inevitable. And as if that weren’t enough the story starts with the dramatic “I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.” Dickens himself was no fool when it came to ghost stories, though perhaps wisely he stuck to the short story form. Anyway, three major novelists invoked set the crossbar high.

On top of all this clichés and stereotypes beckon at every turn. The desolate, crumbling manor house, the fog, the storms, the brooding, suspicious locals, the sullen retainers are all called upon to leave us in no doubt as to what manner of tale we have here. Eliza Caine is a not unpromising heroine, though again out of the mould. At times I find her maddeningly inconsistent – at one moment understandably on the brink of nervous collapse and then within no time full of courage and obdurate resolution. Such a character is, perhaps, necessary to carry the plot, which I find sadly predictable. A few unexpected twists and red herrings would not go amiss and it is a pity that the conclusion to the final chapter is so transparently obvious.

There is a sense in which, I suppose, many of us turn to fiction of this nature to find precisely these ingredients – and fair enough, but I’d have liked to have felt a little more quickening of the pulse and a few more surprises.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I thought this was the only book I'd read by John Boyne until I realized that he's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas author. That was a great read; sadly, this doesn't hit the same high mark.

From the start, there was a feeling of familiarity with both the storyline and characters. New governess, haunted house, swirling mists, whispering locals, a dead mother, churlish servants and weird children. Unfortunately, whilst a few scenes were strong in atmosphere, there was little new in the tale or telling and it felt very contrived. As a pastiche it pays homage to a number of authors and styles and there may be some passing interest in making those literary connections. But there was nothing in the well written narrative to make this exceptional or interesting. I felt little in the way of suspense and was waiting for something dramatic or unexpected to happen. It just felt comfortable and predictable and rather disappointing.

I feel a bit mean being critical because I don't underestimate the amount of research and effort required to produce a well written tale. But other authors have done the same kind of story so much better. It's OK, but not great.

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy.
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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 April 2014
Format: 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.
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