Review: This House Is Haunted by John Boyne


3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I am finally getting round to reviewing this title, just in time for Halloween! I first heard of This House Is Haunted, when Leanne (who sadly no longer blogs) reviewed it a year or two ago. I was really intrigued by the idea of the story – although I’m not the biggest fan of the horror genre, I do quite like the traditional ‘haunted house’ tale, especially with a historical setting. This House Is Haunted follows the story of Eliza Caine, a young woman who becomes governess to the children of Gaudlin Hall. From the moment she arrives, a strange force seems to be attempting to drive her away, by any means necessary.

Firstly, I really liked the tone of the book. I have read several books set in the 19th century that just didn’t seem to capture the essence of the era, with their use of more modern language and tone. Boyne writes in a manner that is fitting to the time period, a time when horror stories and tales of ghosts were becoming more popular through the distribution of penny dreadfuls. The inhabitants of the nearby village, as well as the few other employees of Gaudlin Hall, deny knowledge of any strange goings on, but it is clear there is something they are avoiding. A shocked glance, a sudden reluctance to associate with Eliza, a refusal to discuss the history of the Hall – it is clear that something unpleasant happened there.

Eliza’s backstory felt a little overused – a young woman who becomes a governess after a family tragedy, but as a character she was witty and brave, determined not to run away from Gaudlin Hall, even after multiple attempts on her life by paranormal forces. At first she is logical and cannot even consider the fact that there might be something supernatural at bay, but soon the evidence begins to stack up and she has no choice but to admit to herself that Gaudlin Hall is, in fact, haunted.

Whilst This House Is Haunted felt like a classic Gothic novel, with all the required elements: a large creepy house, a missing employer, young children who seem to know far more than they should, local villagers who avoid the new governess, these ultimately made it feel a little too clichéd. It also never quite reached the heights of horror or creepiness that I was expecting, which was quite a disappointment.


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