Tag Archives: ghost story

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

DATE FINISHED: June 17th, 2012 

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Zoe and Jake are trapped in an avalanche while on a skiing holiday, but somehow manage to escape. Or do they? They find their hotel and the local village both deserted and the phone lines dead, but when they try to venture further afield for help, they keep finding themselves back where they began. A waiting game begins, while they try to work out what has happened, or – perhaps more importantly – what will happen next…

THOUGHTS:  Joyce has an unpretentious prose style that is easy to read, and a gift for both characterisation and evocation of place which I hoped might lift a storyline that otherwise held little appeal for me. Read more of this post

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

DATE FINISHED: May 13th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  18 year old Merricat (Mary Katherine) is derided by the villagers when she ventures out of the Blackwood family home for supplies. The scandal of a poisoning years earlier (of which her elder sister Constance was acquitted) hovers over the family home, where the two girls and their ailing Uncle Julian live, and Julian daily relives – or tries to remember – the day that changed their lives forever. When Constance invites their Cousin Charles into the family home, Merricat does everything within her powers to make him leave, from asking him outright, to storing up ‘magic’ words, to…much worse. But Charles is equally determined that Merricat must go. Who will win?

THOUGHTS:  Like I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, I’m certain I would have loved this book if I had first read it when I was 14.   Read more of this post

Kehua! by Fay Weldon

DATE FINISHED: September 11th, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS:  Kehua are Maori spirits, whose role is to shepherd unsettled souls back into the family fold, so that they can rest in peace.  But how did they get to Highgate in London?  And does it matter if the kehua occasionally get their instructions to ‘run’ mixed up with a command to ‘kill’…?  Beverley has lived in London for the whole of her adult life but the demons of her past seem destined to be visited upon her daughter, granddaughters, great-granddaughter until the kehua are able to set things straight…

THOUGHTS:  Weldon is up-front in her use of the kehua as a metaphor for inherited family behaviours – but then, there are very few authorial devices we are not privy to in this novel, Read more of this post

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

DATE FINISHED: September 2nd, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Twins Miranda and Eliot live in a house that is haunted by generations, a house with its own way of getting its own way.  Eliot seems immune to the ghosts they live with, but following the death of their mother, Miranda sees and hears more and more of them and her own existence becomes proportionally less and less.  Which family will claim her – the living or the dead?

THOUGHTS:  Oyeyemi’s prose style will not be to everyone’s taste, Read more of this post

Florence & Giles by John Harding

DATE FINISHED: April 30th, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  In a gothic mansion, Florence and her younger brother Giles are in the ‘care’ of their absentee uncle. The uncle has forbidden his niece from learning to read (and education of any kind), but she has secretly defied him and spends every available moment devouring the contents of the library. When Giles is returned home from boarding school, a governess enters Blithe House – soon to be followed by a second governess, after the first suffers a tragic accident. Florence is convinced that Blithe is now haunted, and that Miss Taylor harbours the spirit of her predecessor.  Florence is also determined to foil Miss Taylor’s plans to steal her brother away…

THOUGHTS:   Read more of this post

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

DATE FINISHED: March 23rd, 2011

RATED: ** 

SYNOPSIS: Hundreds is a country manor going steadily into decline in the post-war years.  Its inhabitants, the Ayres family, believe that there is a sinister presence in the house, and the family doctor watches aghast as the family’s mental health declines as the house almost literally crumbles around them.  Is it a ghost at work, or something more human, or more sinister?

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

White Stone Day by John MacLachlan Gray

DATE FINISHED: March 15th, 2011

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS: In Oxford, a young reverend finds amusement in entertaining his colleagues daughters with riddles, stories and photography. In London, a literally down at heel journalist finds himself investigating a séance only to receive an unexpected message from his deceased brother, followed by finding himself falsely imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. These disparate & seemingly unconnected storylines intertwine into a compelling period mystery.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

Affinity by Sarah Waters

DATE FINISHED: March 11th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: A visitor to a women’s prison finds herself drawn to one of the inmates, Selina, whose crime is listed as fraud and assault. Selina is a medium, whose trade before imprisonment was ‘dark circles’ in the homes of wealthy ladies. At first cautiously, a strong relationship is forged between the two women, but imagination and manipulation are equally strong powers at play…

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post