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Review: "This House is Haunted," by John Boyne


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This is a delightful ghost tale, affectionately rendered in prose that sounds reminiscent of Charles Dickens. It keeps the tone throughout the entire book, from phrasing, to word choice, to dialogue, and never fails by falling into a more modern tone.

The story itself is simple. Upon the death of her sole parent, her father, a young London woman forsakes the enclosed life that she had lived and takes a job as a governess. Unfortunately, four of the five previous governesses within the last year have met with untimely deaths. Dedicated to her young charges she learns the mystery of the rambling, yet slowly declining, manor house and the ghostly horrors that linger there, aggressively and disturbed.

Moody, intriguing, with our heroine possessing the appropriate amount of pluck, we're brought to a crashing, consuming conclusion that appears to exorcise most of the ghosts. Ahhh, but most is not all, and the final coda reveals the possibility that untimely death never really leaves us quite alone.