The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

I mentioned on Sunday that I was reading and greatly enjoying this book, and while it took me several days longer than I thought it would to finish it, I did end up retaining that enjoyment throughout. So, yay! Of course, it’s no Fingersmith, but I think I was plenty warned about that going in. πŸ™‚

So this is a creepy little story that I still think is most closely related to The Fall of the House of Usher and The Haunting of Hill House, largely because the house itself is a main character of the book. On the Poe side, you also have a house-going-mad/family-going-mad connection; on the Jackson side you have people being drawn to this house like flies to flypaper (that is, reluctantly at first, but then SMOOSH).

But of course, this isn’t either of those books, so many other things happen. The general plot here is that our intrepid narrator, a Dr. Faraday, finds himself the new family doctor of the Ayreses, who live in an awesome house called Hundreds Hall that Faraday has been attracted to since he was a child. It’s a beauty β€” or it was until World War II happened and all the money went away and Mrs. Ayres and her two children and her two servants couldn’t keep the thing up properly. Faraday is having fun hanging out in his idolized house and being friends with high society people, right up until things start to go CRAZY. And by CRAZY, I just mean that some bad things start to happen, like dogs biting and war veterans going a little daft, and strange smudges show up and no one who actually lives in Hundreds actually likes being there all that much, but Faraday just thinks that they’re all a little touched in the head, there’s nothing creepy at all about mirrors walking on their own or the telephone ringing in the dead of night with no one on the other end.

Ahem. It’s a little creepy. And the creepiest part of all of it is that you’re never quite sure what’s actually going on. I, at least, was like, “Oh, the house is haunted. Or maybe it’s not. No, it definitely is. No, that’s crazy, everyone else is just haunted,” for pretty much the whole book.

And I thought that everything resolved itself quite appropriately (if not terribly informatively) at the end of chapter 14. But then there is a tiny little epilogue chapter, which is something that I hate, and which is not really especially useful here, so I recommend you just go ahead and skip that and know that nothing really happens after the end of chapter 14. πŸ™‚

Recommendation: For fans of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, other people who do interesting psychologically scary stories. Not for people who like plots wrapped up with a bow.

Rating: 8/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge, Chunkster Challenge)

See also:
Book Addiction
things mean a lot

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

2 thoughts on “The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

  1. Stephanie says:

    I think I would have been more receptive to this one had I been aware that it was very unlike Fingersmith. I do appreciate that it was a psychological thriller, but I thought it could have been shorter too!

  2. Alison says:

    Yes, it could definitely have been shorter, but at the same time the length meant that I was taking lots of breaks and sort of heightening the suspense a bit, which I think helped.

    And I am so glad that many reviews I saw of this were like, “Oh, it was NOT FINGERSMITH I AM SO SAD,” and also that the name Roderick helped me pin down The Fall of the House of Usher pretty quickly so that I was ready for more spooky story than insane Victorian plot twist. They are two very very different beasts. πŸ™‚

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