Of all the types of horror that exist, I think that Gothic horror is my favorite. Whether it’s movies like The Cursed (which I recently reviewed) or classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, there is something about creepy mansions, bleak countrysides, and family curses that appeal to me. That is why I loved The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.
I’ve read a lot of Sarah Waters’ books. She mostly writes about Victorian or WWII England. Her descriptions pull no punches. If I’d ever wanted to live in Victorian England, her novels make me think again. Waters’ grim writing depicts life as it must have been for the poor, widows and orphans. She describes how rough life was for those in the margins.
The Little Stranger tells the story of a post WWII family who is desperately trying to get their lives back on track. The family owns a huge manor, The Hundreds, which is a shadow of its former, glorious self. Money is tight, and there’s not enough of it for the family to live as it once had back in the manor’s heyday. Waters’ fantastic descriptions of the moldering, old mansion set the scene for a slow-burning ghost story.
Although the story itself is a slow burn, I found myself immersed in the pages. Compared to other horror novels and movies, the ghost in The Little Stranger starts off very low-key. In fact, the main character—Dr. Faraday—doesn’t believe the mansion is haunted at all. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure, either. Was there really a ghost, or was the ‘haunting’ brought on by stress and mental illness? Some reviewers of this book have called it ‘vague’ and ‘frustrating’, but I love the ambiguity. It somehow makes the situation more real. Yes, there are a lot of loose ends, but that’s one of the things I liked about this book.
I love the book and give it a four out of five stars since it isn’t my favorite Waters book (that award goes to Fingersmith). But I highly recommend The Little Stranger to those who love Gothic mystery and horror. I hope to see the movie soon, so I can do a movie-to-book comparison.
Have you tried any Gothic horror lately? Let me know in the comments!
If you like Gothic-style horror, why not try my novel, The Demon in the Tower? It’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited.
The clock tower at Westerdale College is forbidden for a reason.
Rumor has it that Westerdale’s bell tower is haunted, but only psychic Nigel Smyth knows the truth. On a dark, October night five years before, he climbed up to meet his lover and discovered Thomas’ ravaged body at the foot of a demonic altar. Only luck saved Nigel from a similar fate.
Now, as Nigel reluctantly returns to Westerdale, he worries the demon will hunt him down again. This time, however, he’s not the only one in the crosshairs. Other Westerdale students are meeting their own terrible fates as well. As Nigel forges a plan to kill the monster, he worries that his earth magic skills won’t be strong enough to conquer it. Then he meets Jack Lewis, and his desperation turns to hope.
Although Jack is too practical to believe in the paranormal, he can’t explain why he was savagely bitten while in the tower. Nor can he account for the terrifying shadow that haunts him wherever he goes. It’s only when he meets Nigel that he finds an ally against the dark forces surrounding him.
Though billionaire Nigel and reluctant criminal Jack have little in common, together they make a formidable team of demon hunters, and an unlikely pair of lovers.