Tag Archives: gothic fiction

Review: The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Forget cabins in remote wooded places or suspicious small towns; I am convinced that English country houses, particularly in cloudy areas, are the most dangerous places to live or visit. At best, you’ll be robbed of something valuable. Maybe something you own will turn out to be cursed. Most likely you or someone else in the house will be brutally murdered. If you’re lucky, that is. The characters in The Turn of the Screw do not get off so lightly. The book is narrated from the point of view of a governess who may or may not be insane and includes such staples as precocious and creepy orphans, possible ghosts, mysterious pasts, and a handsome but distant master. A very good book to read for Halloween and one which will likely be argued over until the end of humanity.

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Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It would be difficult to overstate the creepiness of [b:We Have Always Lived in the Castle|861577|We Have Always Lived in the Castle|Shirley Jackson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1269310843s/861577.jpg|847007]. [a:Shirley Jackson|13388|Shirley Jackson|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1196262589p2/13388.jpg] brilliantly weaves a story of three recluses who are all frightening in their own way. The book begins with the knowledge that something terrible has happened and something terrible is going to happen. The steady pacing and consistent revelation of just how terrible the lives of the Blackwoods are is countered by the arrival of a greedy, disruptive cousin. Despite knowing that the reclusive way the characters Mary Katherine, Constance, and Julian live is extremely unhealthy, I could not help hating their cousin for the way he behaves. The event for which you wait is traumatic to read, particularly for someone who cannot bear for beautiful things to be destroyed. Overall, while [b:The Lottery|6219655|The Lottery (Creative Short Stories)|Shirley Jackson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266579353s/6219655.jpg|15161007] is also excellent, I found this to be more powerful.

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Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Uncle SilasUncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu does bone-chilling creepiness exceedingly well. This book made the hairs on my neck stand up at least twice; not the easiest thing to accomplish with fiction. The story contains several villains, with varying degrees of overt nastiness and subtlety. That being said, I found myself repeatedly grinding my teeth at or wanting to shake the heroine into using her brain at least once in a while. Admittedly, I am relatively unversed in the gothic horror sub-genre having only previously read the Bronte sisters, but I do not recall their heroines being quite so limp and hysterical. This definitely hurt my enjoyment of an otherwise excellent book. Uncle Silas is yet another book that makes me wish I had the option to give 3.5 stars. As it is, being unable to accurately give it 4, I have to downgrade it to 5.

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