Book Review - This House is Haunted by John Boyne
Updated: May 9, 2018
Haunted house tale told in "ye olde worlde" prose, that manages to tell a good story, but is rather light on the actual scares.
So, that's that. Easiest read I've had this year. And I don't mean that in a derogatory manner. For this is a simple tale told simply, though the prose is decidedly top-notch. And it's not aspiring to anything other than what it is. Classic horror told in the most classic of ways. Which totally works for me. Being a fan of "The Woman in Black", "The Awakening", "Wolfman", and similar other old-school films, I find that This House is Haunted could easily be a film in the same vein. This would make a great "classic" horror movie. And it does make a great "classic" horror novel.
We get one POV protagonist, Eliza Caine, who proves to be a very engaging lead. She starts off somewhat one-note, but grows during the course of the tale, becoming a truly rare woman for the times. I found myself warming to her rather quickly, and she capably carried the narrative. The other characters are there mostly in service of the plot; providing Eliza much needed backstory and insight into the world she now inhabits. One "character" of note is the house, which is rendered in great and foreboding detail.
For the scares, they are pretty tame by today's horror standards. The sense of dread and menace is handled well, but nothing here is too upsetting or graphic. This is actually a very good candidate as a late night read for my young children, as our household is decidedly odd, and they would rather hear a spooky tale as opposed to a fantastical one. Yes...I'm that parent. My kids love scary movies and scary stories, and I'm proud that they handle them well.
All in all, this was a great read. It's not a "love it with all my heart" kind of read, but it was very comfortable, like a favorite blanket.
3 out of 5 tolerable yet middling stars!