I had read only one of John Boyne’s previous novels – “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” – and was intrigued by the fact that he’d written a ghost story! I’m not sure why I was so surprised by this genre change, but it certainly piqued my curiosity.
“This House is Haunted” is set in Victorian times and John Boyne’s protagonist is a young woman named Eliza Caine. She is bereft after her father’s death and decides to leave London, in answer to an advertisement for a governess required in Norfolk. Her charges are two children, Isabella and Eustace. Before Eliza even sets foot in their home at Gaudlin Hall, there is an event which would have sent a more timid woman back on the London bound train immediately. However, young Eliza is made of stouter stuff as we see in the forthcoming chapters.
There are many supernatural happenings which lead Eliza to believe that all is not well and she fears for her life and those of the children as well. Her loyalty to her two charges is admirable under these extreme circumstances!
This novel has received mixed reviews, but I have to say that I found it to be a quick, fun read. I enjoy ghost stories as occasional reads and was entertained by this one. I thought that John Boyne captured the voice of the young Eliza very well and although some of the events were predictable, I was not bothered by that. I imagine that the author deliberately set out to make the reader think…”Oh, this reminds me of….” because there were several instances when I thought this, but again, I actually enjoyed the similarities.
All in all, I liked this novel and would recommend it to those who prefer their spooky stories without too much graphic detail of blood and gore.
About the Author:
John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.
He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. But it was during his time at Trinity that he began to get published. To pay his way at that stage of his career, he worked at Waterstone’s, typing up his drafts by night.
John Boyne is the author of six novels, as well as a number of short stories which have been published in various anthologies and broadcast on radio and television. His novels are published in 39 languages. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which to date has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and a film adaptation was released in September 2008. Boyne resides in Dublin. He is represented by the literary agent Simon Trewin at United Agents in London, United Kingdom.