It’s been ages since I read a ghost story, so when I picked up ‘The Little Stranger’ and it said ‘… chilling ghost story’, I immediately decided to read it. Now that I have finished reading it, I am not so sure it was a ghost story.
Sarah Waters is a great story teller. She has all the right ingredients for an interesting story. The setting is just perfect – an old, dilapidated mansion with some disturbing history to it. A family, the eldest has an early death, the son is injured in a war, the daughter is plain – the house has an air of sorrow and morbidity around it. Introduce a narrator, the family doctor, to the scene and you have an interesting story going on.
The book is big but reads quickly. The twists and turns in the story only add to your speed. The tone of the book is gripping. It is gloomy at times, scary at times and sometimes runs a chill down your spine (Isn’t that what all horror stories are supposed to do?). All in all, a good book to read.
Spoiler Alert. Don’t read the next paragraph if you haven’t read the book or plan to read it later.
The book is not so much as a ghost story because you really don’t know whether a ghost really exists in the scene. Sarah Waters describes a scene, presents some hypothesis and leaves the decision to the user. Since the house has a gloomy air, the characters are in a sad state of mind and this could be the reason for their hallucinations. Second hypothesis, the house might have ‘negative energy’ which is causing people to expose their weak point and hallucinate. Third, there could actually be the ghost of the dead little girl (is that why the title is The little stranger?). Finally, the narrator himself is the culprit. I got strong hints to this throughout the book, but I still can’t believe this is posisble. The doctor is narrating the story, doesn’t blurt out that he is the murderer, but still the reader gets it. Brilliant, isn’t it? This, according to me, is the best part of the book.