The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

No one can spin a web of Gothic intrigue, slow on the onset but building a solid suspense, quite like Sarah Waters.

I read Fingersmith years ago and enjoyed it – a dense read, but a tense tale, and Waters writes well.  In The Little Stranger, she still delivers, in the form of a ghost story.  At first, it seems a bit contrived – a formerly rich family in their ruined mansion who don’t exactly come to terms with the changing world around them.  The story is told from the person of Dr. Faraday, who calls on the Ayres family at Hundreds Hall, their estate house, to check on their sick maid, and becomes increasingly involved with the Ayreses as the days pass.  At first, they seem fairly sedate.  Mrs. Ayres is the gracious mistress of the estate.  Her children are both in their twenties – Roderick, who has assumed the overwhelming duties of keeping the estate up after his hospital recovery following World War II, and Caroline, a few years older, a plain, yet extremely capable lady who has stayed with her family to help Roderick with upkeep.

Things take a bad turn when a small child is mauled by the family dog at a dinner party held at the house the same night that Roderick has a spell and refuses to come down from his room.  And the situation grows worse from then on, as Roderick quickly looses sanity; he insists that the house is “infected” and he’s the only one to keep its dark forces at bay.

Craziness, guilt, and the family “taint” all play front stage in this slow burner of a ghost yarn.  If you are looking for a quick read, The Little Stranger probably isn’t it.  But, if you enjoy a steady suspense level and like Sarah Waters’ writing, go for it.  It’s still the Halloween season.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: