This House is Haunted

This House is Haunted

4.1 17
by John Boyne

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Written in Dickensian prose, This House Is Haunted is a striking homage to the classic nineteenth-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


Written in Dickensian prose, This House Is Haunted is a striking homage to the classic nineteenth-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. Clever, captivating, and witty, This House Is Haunted is pure entertainment with a catch.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Eliza Caine's father dies unexpectedly in 1867, Eliza is left on her own in London, and as a result, she impulsively answers a somewhat cryptic advertisement seeking a governess at Gaudlin Hall in Norfolk. However, before she ever sets foot in Gaudlin Hall, a mysterious force seems intent on harming her. Eliza's situation becomes even more baffling as she discovers that her two young charges, Isabella and Eustace, are living on their own in the manor house, their parents mysteriously absent. Everyone she meets wants nothing more than to avoid talking about Gaudlin Hall and its residents, present and past. The only thing that Eliza is certain of is that there is an entity in the house that wants her dead, and she must uncover the secrets of the house if she wants to protect the children and escape the fate of her predecessors. VERDICT While the title is rather uninspired, Boyne's (The Absolutist) latest work is anything but. In this tribute to the classic 19th-century ghost story, Boyne follows in the footsteps of his literary forebears as the novel invokes elements of Charles Dickens (who makes a guest appearance), Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre), and Henry James (The Turn of the Screw). With well-drawn characters and surprising twists, this book will appeal to fans of horror and historical fiction as well as anyone who likes a good ghost story.—Elisabeth Clark, West Florida P.L., Pensacola
Publishers Weekly
In 1867 England, 21-year-old Eliza Caine is left completely alone in the world when her father suddenly takes ill and dies. In a fit of melancholia, she responds to an advertisement for a governess to care for a pair of children in the wilds of Norfolk. When she receives a positive response, Eliza realizes that her life is about to undergo a cataclysmic change: she has never been out of London, she has never been a governess, and she knows nothing about Gaudlin Hall—which turns out to be an imposing pile of a building, spine-chillingly odd, unsettling, and spooky—or her new employers. Drawing sometimes excessively on Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, and the works of Wilkie Collins and Dickens, Boyne (The House of Special Purpose) creates a subtle, satisfying tale of ghostly terror. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Great fun… Boyne keeps up a constant barrage of surprises and the pace is terrific.” —The Times (UK)

“An adventure that will delight Dickens fans and intrigue anyone who dares to follow her on her journey.” —The Daily Express (UK)

"A perfect, shivery gothic tale." —Booklist 

"Like the writers of Victorian ghost tales to which he pays homage, Boyne is a master at creating an unsettling presence. This House Is Haunted gathers momentum right up to the stunning denouement, and ends with one word that serves as an icy finger down the spine." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Boyne’s plotting and pacing are first-rate, and his mastery of the slow-boil is evident..." —The Daily Beast

"[This House Is Haunted] is a classic Dickensian ghost story, with an unexpected and horrific twist." —Glamour

"Boyne paints a picture that is both gloomy and thrilling, creepy and enticing...The result is a novel, just in time for Halloween, that is fast-paced, unputdownable, lively and intelligent, without being oppressively creepy." —The Record

"This House Is Haunted is a good old-fashioned ghost story—a real indulgence and a fine read all around." —Book Reporter

"John Boyne applies his dependably fluid writing style to this eerie Victorian ghost story, which offers an unsettling—in a good way—blend of the conventional and the unexpected...Boyne knows the precise moment to shake things up with a sudden, sharp surprise."—Reading The Past

"Literate horror fans will take wicked delight in [This House Is Haunted]..." —Bookpage

"Rife with Gothic elements, This House is Haunted will please fans of Jane Eyre, Ann Radcliffe and the like. A beautiful call back to the height of Gothic Literature." —The Readist

"‘This House is Haunted by John Boyne is everything a classic ghost story should be...pure Gothic fun." —Fourth Street Review

"Fans of Gothic novels will definitely enjoy This House is Haunted. Its appeal, however, stretches further than to just those who are looking for an entertaining Gothic homage...[A]n alluring work of fiction that encompasses what we most look for in a novel." –Acid Free Pulp

Kirkus Reviews
Standard gothic fare, from the frisson of cold hands on one's throat to creepy ghosts. It's 1867, and teacher and narrator Eliza Caine is grieving the recent death of her father. She rather impulsively decides to leave her position as a teacher of young girls in London and pursue a governess's position in Norfolk. The oddness begins when she finds out that the advert she'd responded to in the paper was placed by the previous governess rather than by the parents of the two children at Gaudlin Hall. When Eliza arrives, she finds two precocious children: 12-year-old Isabella and 8-year-old Eustace, both bright and both very strange. Eliza also discovers that there are no parents or guardians in sight, and the people in the village become downright uncomfortable when Eliza brings up this delicate topic. To her dismay, she also discovers that in the previous 12 months, she's been the sixth governess to tend the children. Gradually and reluctantly, a few acquaintances open up about the goings-on at Gaudlin Hall. Eliza discovers that the first governess, Miss Tomlin, had been brutally beaten by Santina, Isabella and Eustace's exotic and obsessed mother. In the same attack, she battered her husband beyond recognition, and in a bow to Jane Eyre--and for a time unknown to Eliza--the children's brutalized father is found to be still living at Gaudlin Hall, tended by an irascible nurse. Although Santina was executed for the murder, her spirit still roams the hall, interfering with Eliza's attempts to tend to her charges. Boyne saves a nice surprise for the last word of the novel, but otherwise, this is not edge-of-your-seat scary.

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Other Press, LLC
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Meet the Author

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of seven novels for adults and two for children. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas won two Irish Book Awards, was short-listed for the British Book Award, reached number one on the New York Times best sellers list, and was made into an award-winning Miramax feature film. His novels are published in more than forty languages. He lives in Dublin.

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This House is Haunted 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
This was a great book - a true 19th century classic ghost story with a wonderful setting of a sinister old family mansion full of secrets in a small English town. It's not an in-your-face horror novel, but an elaborately written tale that is chilling and suspenseful. Eliza's character was very well-developed and easy to like and she was such a strong woman for the time period. Not exactly a "modern", as they said in the book, but a woman who wasn't afraid to be a little more assertive and determined than most of that period. The children were a little creepy - not Children of the Corn creepy - just a little off, although Eliza grows to care for them and doesn't go screaming into the night and abandon them when strange things begin to happen. The ending offered a twist I never saw coming, but it seemed appropriate. I could easily have read this book in one sitting due to the pacing and suspense and would have preferred a dark, rainy night to do so - an ideal time to read ghost stories - but unfortunately wasn't able to do that. With Halloween coming, this is the perfect time to read a ghost story and if you prefer foggy, eerie, and ominous over blood, guts, and gore, this is the book for you. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
What I liked most about This House is Haunted, is how it combines elements from a lot of classics from The Turn of The Screw to Rebecca, and mixes them in a new, original book that is reminiscent of old gothic horror reads but has an unique element added. The story is gothic horror, my favorite genre, but unfortunately it doesn’t stir away enough from the well-known elements to turn into something completely unique and original. After her father’s dead, Eliza Caine moves to Norfolk to become a governess at Gaudlin Hall. She finds no parents, but just a young boy and girl in the large mansion, Isabella and Eustace. While she finds it strange, she suspects to meet the parents in the morning. At night, a strange occurence terrifies her, but she’s determined not to be scared off by it. However, when by morning there’s no sign of any parents, she decides to dig deeper into the mystery and find out what’s going on. Her quest for the truth leads her to the revelation that several governesses have died before her in freak accident. When strange things happen all around her, and her life gets threatened, Eliza must make a choice: stay and get to the bottom of the mystery, even if it means she may end up dead, or flee back to London. So we got a bunch of known tropes: the hidden presence in the house, the madwoman, the governess, the scary children, the large mansion, ghosts, a town refusing to speak about a town secret, dreary atmosphere. The lack of original elements bothered me a bit, and brought the rating down for me. I wanted something original, not just a blatant rip-off of the old classics. Not to saying this is just a rip-off – it has a great premise, the writing is excellent, and the children were deliciously scary – but it felt too much like something I’d already read to be truly intriguing. In that context it reminded me of The Secrets of Crickley Hall by James Herbert, except that the latter had a lot more original elements woven in, which made it more entertaining for me. A great read if you’re a fan of ghost sotries, like I am.
Phroglover More than 1 year ago
I have waited a long time for a deliciously, shivery intellectual ghost story that allows the reader to enjoy the ride - without the blood/gore/crassness of modern horror. And this is a novel that uses the English language without the ponderousness of Dickens! I was hooked from the first chapter, and though tempted to check the ending early, I resisted and enjoyed the ride tremendously.
defleppard65 More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book to read if you like paranormal books. This books is good from the beginning to the end. I hope that there will be a 2nd book to this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this has the feel of a book written during Dickensonian times, it reads like a modern tale, where the story flows at a good pace and keeps you hooked. It is a great ghost story for those who like a more traditional type, not a repeat of the latest Hollywood fare.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in two days. Good gothic thriller. Easy to figure out the plot twists ahead of time, but well- written and entertaining.
yaye More than 1 year ago
I loved this book wish John Boyne wrote more the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Refreshingly old fashioned, gothic ghost story.
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Very well done
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