October 2, 2017

Book Review: An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

Source: Vine

The Naremores, a dysfunctional British nuclear family, seek to solve their problems and start a new life away from the city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their perfect new home seems to embrace them, its endless charms creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But as they grow closer, the house begins to turn on them, and seems to know just how to hurt them the most – threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

Much like the Hollow seduced and charmed the Naremores at first, so was I seduced by An English Ghost Story. Living in the Hollow has a fairy tale idyllic quality - everything is perfect and the family - Steven, Kirsty, Jordan and Tim - are happier than they were in the city. Being in the Hollow has mended the fractures in their family - or so it seems. But of course, that is a temporary state. There are charming, magical quirks they encounter in their exploration of the house, which they recognize as straight out the famous children's books the house's former owner wrote. Touches of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edith Nesbith - a particular genre of British, WWII-era writers that will be familiar and immediately recognizable. Living in the Hollow, in fact, seems like out of an idealized children's book, but with sinister shadows hovering just out of scene. The honeymoon period with the house begins to dissipate as more and more alarming episodes occur.

Told from 3rd person perspectives of each of the family members, the readers look on in horror as each one progresses from loving to resentful to murderous. Is the house taking each of their worst qualities and amplifying it or was this last-ditch effort at togetherness a failure before it even began? Will this family survive the house and each other?    

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