Yes, I am that much of a book dork.
Ready for some more dork? Generally I follow a fiction liturgy if you will, matching the type of book to the time of year —it's what spawned my "Books for all Seasons" posts— but last January, when I should have been picking up a dense classic, probably by a Russian, I could not help digging in to John Boyne's pitch-perfect gothic ghost story, This House is Haunted. I mean, c'mon, the cover alone is irresistible. Plus, I'm researching ghosts for my own book. So stop judging me, man.
There is the stock list of creepy characters: the strangely absent employer, the tight-lipped cook, the solicitor. And of course, the ghost. Or are there more than one? Mwaaa-ha-ha-haaaaa.
Forgetting for a moment Boyne's luminous writing, his Dickensonian voice, and his delicious descriptions, what hooked me on this book was Eliza's first night at Gaudlin Hall. Let me just say it involves drifting off to sleep only to find one's ankles being grabbed. Through the bed.
Excuse me while I change my bloomers.
Yes it's very Turn of the Screw meets Jane Eyre. But it's how Boyne uses these archetypes to mold his own tale of terror that keeps one up at night, not just quaking, but also devouring each page.
Since reading This House is Haunted, Boyne has become one of my most beloved historical fiction authors. And, he's Irish. Which gives him cred just because.
I've plowed through The House of Special Purpose, Next of Kin so far and, once the dust of my literary liturgy settles next spring, I'll be curled up with his newest, A History of Loneliness (Spring 2015 US, available now in the UK). Let's read it together, shall we? Don't worry, I'll remind you. (Read, harass you almost as much as I harass you about reading my books because I friggin' love this guy if you haven't figured that out already.)
Until then, get your jolly good Halloween spook on with This House is Haunted.
And invest in some night lights.