Reader’s Notes: “This House is Haunted” by John Boyne

Reader’s Notes here at ClimbingSky are not “book reviews” but are notes and impressions about books and poems and writers

This HouseI enjoy reading horror and ghost stories. It is a guilty pleasure.

But now that I think about it, I have a lot of what some might term guilty literary pleasures: Westerns, Mysteries, Hardboiled Fiction, Grimdark Fantasy, Science Fiction, and books about baseball, basketball, and NASCAR.

Instead of watching television, I read. Different kinds of books and genres for different kinds of moods. As I have said here before, I do not have the patience for watching television and movies.

The Literary Ghost Story is a noble tradition:

  • The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
  • Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde
  • The Body Snatcher, by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  • The Signal-Man, by Charles Dickens

The “Signal-Man” and Dickens play an important role John Boyne’s novel This House is Haunted.  It is a well-written “Victorian” ghost story featuring London fog, numerous literary references, and a mysterious country manor.

Before the arbitrary distinctions of genre vs. literary fiction, many great writers tried their hand at horror stories. A book like This House is Haunted, a rare combination of a good ghost story and a good writer, is to my mind a much better way to spend an evening than watching a movie of television show.

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