Customer Reviews for

The Ghost Writer

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(0)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Elegant and Stylish

In his debut novel, John Harwood creates an eerily psychological horror story with a nod (and a wave) to Victorian literature. As the novel begins in Australia, young Gerard discovers hidden away in his mother's possessions a strange photograph and a book. His mother sw...
In his debut novel, John Harwood creates an eerily psychological horror story with a nod (and a wave) to Victorian literature. As the novel begins in Australia, young Gerard discovers hidden away in his mother's possessions a strange photograph and a book. His mother swoops down on him with fury, snatching the belongings from him and hiding them away where Gerard cannot find them, refusing to tell him of her past. Soon thereafter, he begins a secret correspondence with a crippled English girl named Alice, and her letters rescue him emotionally from the bleak surroundings in his Australian home. As he matures, he falls in love with Alice, who won't let him see her for fear he'll feel sorry for her. As he learns that the book his mother has hidden away contained a ghost story written by his grandmother Viola, which Harwood presents in full, Gerard confides even more deeply in Alice. Viola's lengthy - and thoroughly creepy - stories seem like separate entities until Gerard discovers some disturbing connections. Upon his mother's death, he sets out to England to finally meet up with his almost-healed Alice and to settle family matters. What he doesn't count on, however, is that nothing, not even his own senses, can be trusted. Even if the reader solves much of the mystery before it is revealed, the ending has all the force it should, thanks to Harwood's highly visual description and talent with suspense. Harwood does a marvelous job of embedding the mannered ghost stories within Gerard's story, and the stories-within-a-story works exceptionally well in his hands. The tales are so throat-grabbing by themselves that I forgot at times that they were but segments of the whole. The effect is truly eerie as details from them begin to surface in Gerard's plot. Because the author's debt to Henry James' THE TURN OF THE SCREW is obvious well before he makes reference to it, I wished he had just let the style and the allusions to speak for themselves instead of pointing them out. His acknowledgment of Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS is even less successful. I overlooked these lapses simply because I could not willingly put this novel aside. This is not Stephen King-type horror but something more elegant and literary. This moody, stylish debut will capture your imagination for hours at a time. Especially if you like creepiness, you'll love this tale of multiple hauntings and mystery.

posted by Anonymous on July 20, 2004

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Captivating

I've never written a review on a book before, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this one. Harwood is a wonderful writer with a real talent for detail and suspense. Whenever I had to put the book down I couldn't wait to start again, actually looking forward to what ...
I've never written a review on a book before, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this one. Harwood is a wonderful writer with a real talent for detail and suspense. Whenever I had to put the book down I couldn't wait to start again, actually looking forward to what would happen next. However, the ending left me flat. I know writers often like to leave something to the imagination, but this was really disappointing. I thought surely my copy of the book must have been missing a few pages. It's as if he had to hurry up and finish the book to meet his deadline. Perhaps I just missed the nuances of the story, but it just felt like a sequel needed to be written. If that were the case, I would purchase it in a heart beat, but there was no indication of that.

posted by 4004400 on October 20, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    Clever Ghost Story

    The author has written a story within a story within a story creating a very clever tale. He provides many clues and gives vivid descriptions of people and houses and makes you feel you are actually participating in the story. I was sorry to come to the end of the book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2004

    Elegant and Stylish

    In his debut novel, John Harwood creates an eerily psychological horror story with a nod (and a wave) to Victorian literature. As the novel begins in Australia, young Gerard discovers hidden away in his mother's possessions a strange photograph and a book. His mother swoops down on him with fury, snatching the belongings from him and hiding them away where Gerard cannot find them, refusing to tell him of her past. Soon thereafter, he begins a secret correspondence with a crippled English girl named Alice, and her letters rescue him emotionally from the bleak surroundings in his Australian home. As he matures, he falls in love with Alice, who won't let him see her for fear he'll feel sorry for her. As he learns that the book his mother has hidden away contained a ghost story written by his grandmother Viola, which Harwood presents in full, Gerard confides even more deeply in Alice. Viola's lengthy - and thoroughly creepy - stories seem like separate entities until Gerard discovers some disturbing connections. Upon his mother's death, he sets out to England to finally meet up with his almost-healed Alice and to settle family matters. What he doesn't count on, however, is that nothing, not even his own senses, can be trusted. Even if the reader solves much of the mystery before it is revealed, the ending has all the force it should, thanks to Harwood's highly visual description and talent with suspense. Harwood does a marvelous job of embedding the mannered ghost stories within Gerard's story, and the stories-within-a-story works exceptionally well in his hands. The tales are so throat-grabbing by themselves that I forgot at times that they were but segments of the whole. The effect is truly eerie as details from them begin to surface in Gerard's plot. Because the author's debt to Henry James' THE TURN OF THE SCREW is obvious well before he makes reference to it, I wished he had just let the style and the allusions to speak for themselves instead of pointing them out. His acknowledgment of Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS is even less successful. I overlooked these lapses simply because I could not willingly put this novel aside. This is not Stephen King-type horror but something more elegant and literary. This moody, stylish debut will capture your imagination for hours at a time. Especially if you like creepiness, you'll love this tale of multiple hauntings and mystery.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    Atmospheric and spooky

    Best book I have read in some time - enough to actually write a review! I put everything else on hold this morning just to finish the last 50 or so pages! Intriguing plot, believable characters and nailbiting suspense...You will not be bored! Great first effort - cannot wait for more from this author!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Delicious

    If you are searching for a book that is out of the ordinary.. You have found it. A mystery that pulls you in and keeps you wondering, wanting to push for more. I really enjoyed the writing style and prose. I still think of it sometimes. I went immediately and purchased his other read. Can't wait for his next one to come out! Hurry John. :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    Recommended

    Chilling and smart ghost story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    Creepy, Excellent!!

    This has become one of my favorite books. If you are into creepy ghost stories with a twist, you should love this. Just a great story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2005

    Great Novel

    I am not an avid reader, but I realy enjoyed this book. It was creepie and I loved the little ghost stories thrown into the novel. I will tell you when I fell asleep reading this book at night. I would have the strangest most bizarre dreams. Read it if you like a good ghost story you won't be disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2004

    Exceptional

    This is an exceptional debut novel -- I am so glad I stumbled upon it!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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