Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

Book Review: An English Ghost Story- Kim Newman

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 I’m back home for summer at the moment, and that means that I’ve been to the library. After promising myself that I would read through all of the books that I’ve accumulated and that are sitting in stacks all over my bedroom, I have ignored them for the shiny novelty of the library. Now I have a new stack of books!

Kim Newman has been on my radar for some time now, his Anno Dracula series has caught my eye many a time on the shelves of my local book shop, and I’ve been meaning to search him out in the library for a while. When I noticed this little lovely in the horror section, I couldn’t just leave it sitting there with no stamps on the slip inside it’s cover.

It’s a great book that was interesting to read as it is a very traditional ‘Ghost Story’. I haven’t really read a lot of traditional stories in this vein, and it was really good. A family moves away from the city to a sleepy countryside house called The Hollow, and everything seems to be going well. All of their old problems melt away as soon as they move in. The house is haunted. They know it almost as soon as they walk in, but it’s okay. Each of the family has their own encounters with the ghosts and spirits and as the novel progresses their experiences increasingly isolate them from the rest of their family. Did the ghosts pretend to be friendly so that they would stay? Or is something else happening?

I enjoyed reading this book. At first I thought that it was aimed at a younger audience than me (I’m 21), but actually it was really rather wonderful. The story follows the whole family, not just one specific member of it, and therefore it allows us a unique insight into their dynamic and we can see all sides of the events of the book. For example; we see how Jordan- the teenage daughter- has her heart broken by her boyfriend, and we also see how her parents are concerned that it may cause her to regress back into the anorexia and bulimia that plagued her in the city.

I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, and also the idea that the ghosts were impossible to pin down. Too often in stories that deal with ghosts, they are either good, bad or misunderstood. The ghosts that Newman has created are not quite the same breed. We are never sure if they are real ghosts or if they are a kind of supernatural recording that is tied to the house and the land of The Hollow.

Although this isn’t a book that I would buy for myself, it is one that I may want to borrow from the library more than once. And I would definitely buy it for the right person. This book would have been ideal for me at the age of twelve, but it does have some very adult themes so I would advise that, if you’re thinking of buying it for a child or a teenager, you give it a read over first. Anorexia and bulimia aren’t major aspects of the story, although they are present in a way that it is easy to understand what is happening, and also there are some steamy scenes with the parents of the family. (Which may be unsuitable for a younger reader, but as an older reader they were actually rather lovely- in the sense that they were part of a loving relationship)

It was a surprisingly good read and I’m always up for a nice surprise!

Let me know what you thought.

Have a lovely day,

Alys.

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