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18 August 2013

'This House is Haunted' by John Boyne

This book has the magic to expand its atmosphere into your life

This is a signed book I won on Twitter from  ...  I had, of course, heard of 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' and both my children read it.  I received 'This House is Haunted' with some concern as I do not like scary stories, but I have gained courage in my maturity. And from the first few paragraphs... I liked it.

I think that there is nothing as melancholic as a rainy evening in London.  Having walked through several rainy evenings in London, I know what I am talking about.  I was put into a cold, wet, creepy evening in Victorian times, Charles Dickens included.  In the beginning the narrator blames her father's death on a walk to a book reading by Charles Dickens.  Her father had been ill and the cold rain and chill made him sicker.  See, immediately I could relate because I would absolutely leave a hospital to go hear some of my favorite authors.

John Boyne's book reads like a good old fashioned Victorian ghost story.  I enjoyed the atmosphere and the characters.  The protagonist had some quirks which made her real; she was grounded enough to be a believable witness.  I had some moments of creepiness, though no absolute horror.  It was the atmosphere and the sense of mystery that I enjoyed.  The predictable evil ghost had an unpredictable enemy.  I won't give it away but once it is revealed, it seems a logical solution to the problem of a murderous ghost.  'The crazy lady in the attic' literary device added a pleasant twist to the story.

Boyne used some of the classic expectations to his advantage.  Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I failed.  What I am trying to say is that formulaic stories, to me, regardless of the evil of the monster, are still predictable and often end up being boring... but not this time.  My glass of wine had to be refilled several times while reading, always a good sign.

What a brief post but I already feel I have given too much away.  'This House is Haunted' is perfect for a rainy evening in the Fall.  I read it at the height of Summer in Southern France and still I could feel the chill in the air.  The evening felt darker and muffled, as if by thick curtains.  In short, this book has the magic to expand its atmosphere into your life.

John Boyne 
ISBN: 9780857520937 

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