Sadly, This House is Haunted is not the sort of book you want to end your Imbibing Peril with. It starts off pretty well, Dickens era London, a young school teacher’s father dies suddenly and she decides to take a job as a governess in a country house. Things are odd from the get-go as she is never interviewed, just given the job. No details are given such as how many children there are – and yet she takes the job. Well, of course, she does. Otherwise there’s no book. And that’s one of the problems. Eliza’s personality never really gels for me and there are a number of times where the only reason things happen is because otherwise there’d be no book. She asks the driver questions on the way to the house and then flat out refuses to believe him. There are times she just seems really slow and others where I don’t know what she’s thinking even though she’s the sole narrator.
The ghost attacks immediately although she doesn’t realize it immediately. No one will tell her anything about the family at first and finally they do and they act like they were never hiding anything. I found not just Eliza’s personality unsatisfying — everyone was. The children, the lawyer, the friends, the creepy servants — all of them somehow lacking. It might be just that they’re not very deep or detailed. The back story is supposed to be horrifying, but not caring about anyone, it’s just an unbelievable story. And the house is supposed to be falling apart although it’s only been about a year since the unsatisfying horrible events. I guess that supernatural wear and tear takes its toll. And someone talks about holding on to a stone beam on the roof at one point — didn’t think such a thing existed. And generally aren’t beams under the roof?
Cliché plot, uncompelling characters, I would say don’t bother. Pretty sure you can find a better ghost story out there.
Update: Just found this review which puts it so well:
But aside from this, I enjoyed this R.I.P. and thank Carl for hosting! Hangsaman, flawed but compelling, and Supernatural Enhancements, 75% highly entertaining, were both good reads. I was overall disappointed by Seven Gables, but if you don’t expect it to be too creepy and just enjoy the style, you probably won’t be. I really did like Hepzibah and the others, which I can’t say about anyone in Haunted. Hope you had a good R.I.P. IX and a Happy Halloween! If not, join us next September when I hope we will do the Imbibe again!