Author: Henry James
First Published: 1898
Page Count: 87
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 2/5 Stars
For such a drawn out plot and so few scary scenes, readers could definitely find a better book to give them a good scare.
*Few Details *More Psychological Then Scary *Difficult Writing
“I was a screen – I was their protector. The more I saw, the less they would.” A governess is about to discover she has signed on for more than just a teaching job when she sets foot on a grand English country estate. Miles and Flora are her new pupils, but she soon learns they have a dark secret between the two of them. The appearance of ghostly beings and the transformation of the children’s personalities leads the governess to believe that these demonic visitors have a sinister plan that involves the children and that she must do everything in her power to protect them.
I had high hopes for this book. It’s considered a horror classic and the book description promised a good story. I can say that the book delivered on the creepy factor with the children. There is something so unnerving about a child or two that aimlessly wander around a big mansion, occasionally staring off into space with a grim expression. They appear so innocent but deep down you know they’ve got some dark knowledge. Well, the children in this book give off the vibes described above. However, that was about the only element of the book that gave me the heebie-jeebies.
This story turned out to be more psychological than an outright frightful ghost story. You spend the whole book wondering if the governess is mad or if the children are possessed or if there is something else all together going on. The author gives us few details about the ghosts’ past lives or even what they might be after. The whole story is just so vague that I couldn’t enjoy it; there isn’t even a resolution in the ending. I also had trouble understanding the author’s writing style. It has an older, classic air to it, but I was shocked that with all my experience reading Jane Austen and other classics that I struggled with it so much.
Sometimes I recommend reading a book that I didn’t particularly love because it’s so short and there are redeemable qualities. However, this book is so short that I don’t think it offers enough story-wise to make the effort worth it. I expected a lot more from this book and it left me with an unimpressed sense of disappointment that urges me to say that you should skip out on this one.
*TV Adaptation: (Starring Colin Firth 1999), (Starring Lynn Redgrave 1974) *Film Adaptation: (Starring Peter Wyngarde 1961), (Starring Patsy Kensit 1992)