After the death of her father, Eliza Caine finds herself in an awkward position. Their house is rented and her position as a teacher at a local girls' school isn't enough to cover it. When she sees an ad for a governess position, complete with housing, she applies and is hired. But the whole thing is odd. She arrives to find that the children's parents aren't in residence. In fact, it was the previous governess who hired her. What's more, no one wants to answer her questions about the Westerlys. The townspeople in Gaudlin are closemouthed and Mr. Raisin, the Westerly's attorney, never seems to have time for Eliza's queries. The children themselves are especially evasive as well when it comes to their parents and even their former governesses. And while the kids are pleasant enough, especially the boy, Eustace, Eliza has sensed something disturbing at Gaudlin Hall.
John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) adopts a traditional gothic style in his latest, This House is Haunted. The book also serves as a bit of an homage to Charles Dickens with Eliza, her father, and others throughout the book sharing a passion for his work. Dickens even makes an appearance of his own in the tale.
I'm a big fan of Victorian ghost stories and gothic lit and Boyne has done his very well. With a few minor exceptions, this could easily be a story from the actual time period of its setting (in my opinion).
The book is a bit short, but as with all stories I've read in this vein, it is rather dense. It's a great book for settling in on a cold and wet afternoon!
(This House is Haunted officially hits shelves on October 8.