TITLE: THE TURN OF THE SCREW
AUTHOR: HENRY JAMES
PUBLISHER: HARPER COLLINS
GENRE: HORROR FICTION
COVER TYPE: E-BOOK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
“The Turn of the Screw” is an intense psychological tale of terror. It begins in an old house on Christmas Eve. It is the story of a Governess who comes to live with and take care of two young children. The Governess loves her new position in charge of the young children; however she is soon disturbed when she begins to see ghosts…
PLOT SUMMARY: The novella opens with a group of friends telling each other stories not unlike The Chowder Society in Ghost Story by Peter Straub. One member tells a story of someone he once knew and loved. A governess is sent to a spooky old house to look after the niece and nephew of a wealthy man. She’s plagued by spooky visitations of what seems to be the previous governess Miss Jessel and her lover, Peter Quint who’re dead. She’s convinced they want to harm the young children and the children seem to be aware of the presence and encouraging it.
HIGHLIGHTS: James is great at building tension. He drip feeds you the story a tiny drop at a time and compels you to read on so you can figure out what the hell’s going on. This is a skill other writers could do well to adapt, especially those who feel compelled to dump a mess of crap on a reader’s head at the one time. At many points during The Turn of the Screw I wondered if the governess was insane and imagining everything. Were the ghosts in her head? Were the ghosts real? Were the children innocents that need to be saved? Were they possessed by evil? The ending shocked me to the core.
LOWLIGHTS: I really struggled with the language James uses in The Turn of the Screw. It’s so clunky and overwritten. I’ve never read anything so long-winded in my life. I felt a bit out of breath by the time I’d finished a chapter. I didn’t realise until I’d read it how long ago it was written which explains the language a bit. I don’t think I’d be keen to read other work by James if the language was typical of his work.
THE OPENING LINE
The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child…
This was a free e-book from www.kobo.com.
The Turn of the Screw wasn’t half bad. James knew how to build tension all right. Other writers could take a leaf out of his book. I had no clue what was really going on until the end. Not bad at all.
I’ve seen the 2006 movie adaptation, In A Dark Place and thought it was great.