October 30th, 2014

rotting doll.

Review: An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

An English Ghost Story
by Kim Newman

When a dysfunctional British family moves to a historic old house in the country, it becomes their chance to start over. The Hollow, as the house is called, once belonged to an eccentric author who wrote a once-popular children's series. It is a peaceful, restorative house, and the frayed relationships between the parents, their children, and each other slowly begin to mend. But the house is a living entity, and after the initial seduction it turns on the family, digging at their worst fears and driving them against each other. Unless Steven, Kirsty, Jordan and Tim can pull together and solve the mysteries of the house, they will be destroyed.

If you're looking for a gothic novel that will send tingles down your spine, look no further. Kim Newman, best known for his Anno Dracula series, paints his house in slow, deliberate strokes that allows the spookiness to creep in slowly. The house itself sounds fascinating, large with many dark rooms stuffed with antique furniture. In such an environment, surprises lurk around every corner.

The Naremore family, readers soon learn, are a total mess. The father and mother are barely speaking, their relationship disintegrated by countless disagreements. The children fear their father Steven and resent their mother Kirsty, and they barely get along with each other. In the beginning, you're rooting for them as their affection is slowly rekindled in the excitement of moving into a new home. But as the dark forces in the house begin to corrupt each person, their personality flaws become magnified and hints of the troubles that drove them out of London emerge. Kirsty becomes secretive, obsessed with the house's connection to the author Louise Teazle and the references to The Hollow found in her books. Steven's need to dominate and assert himself flares up, transforming him into a cruel, abusive tyrant. Jordan turns her unhappiness inward, succumbing to the torments of her eating disorder. The youngest member of the family, Tim, becomes obsessed with war games and begins taking orders from an army with whom only he can communicate.

The dark psychological torment of the main characters is what makes this book so compelling. Yes, there are things that go bump in the night and mysterious spirits roaming the halls, but it's the demons in each person's soul that prove truly frightening and keep you reading 'til the very last page.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about An English Ghost Story, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: Discussion Question: What's the scariest book you ever read?
2012: A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
2011: We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen
2010: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
2009: Giveaway #11: The Virgin's Daughters WINNERS
2008: Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick