I have had This House Is Haunted on my Audible wishlist for some time now, and I finally decided to take the plunge. And boy, am I really glad that I did.
Written in Dickensian prose, This House Is Haunted is a striking homage to the classic 19-century ghost story. Set in Norfolk in 1867, Eliza Caine responds to an ad for a governess position at Gaudlin Hall.
When she arrives at the hall, shaken by an unsettling disturbance that occurred during her travels, she is greeted by the two children now in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There is no adult present to represent her mysterious employer, and the children offer no explanation.
Later that night in her room, another terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong. From the moment Eliza rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence that lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realizes that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past.
While the story does have familiar elements of other works, such as Turn of the Screw, the story more than holds its own. And while you may think you’ve heard this kind of tale before, the further you progress into the world of Gaudlin Hall, the more you realise this truly is a unique piece of writing.
The author John Boyne is probably most famous for his novel The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. And while This House Is Haunted differs greatly in terms of story, the quality of the writing is the same.
Boyne draws you into this Victorian-era ghost story with the finesse and elegance of his words that you cannot help but find yourself wanting more. The slow build-up creates the perfect atmosphere, and the tension and dread continue to grow until the story reaches its dramatic final act.
This is a cleverly written piece of work, perfect for lovers of a classic ghost story. There is no reliance on gore, or filling the story with unnecessary paranormal encounters. The story works because of its well-timed pacing and a genuine sense of ever-increasing fear.
The narration is the key factor in the success or failure of an audiobook. As engaging and brilliant as a book can be, if it is then let down by poor narration, then the overall enjoyment can be greatly affected. With Alison Larkin however, there were no such issues. The acclaimed narrator and comedienne have previously tackled the work of Jane Austen so you can imagine this made her the perfect fit for This House Is Haunted.
Her voice was a joy to listen too, and she really brought the characters to life. Her male voice creations, in particular, were exquisite, and she delivered such believability to every character she performed. But the most success came with the two children, Isabella and Eustace. Her portrayal of Isabella is genuinely terrifying and will have you feeling very uneasy every time she appears.
A brilliantly written, classic ghost story with wondrous narration, This House Is Haunted is one of the most enjoyable and terrifying audiobooks ever produced. If you want an audiobook containing engaging characters, mystery and terror around every corner, then This House Is Haunted is the audiobook for you.
This House Is Haunted is available on Audible UK now.