Let me begin by saying I’ve highly enjoyed Sarah Waters’ work, so far. I loved “Tipping the Velvet” & was whisked away by “The Night Watch”. That said, I have to admit to being slightly on the fence about her last effort.
As always, the prose is excellent, the atmosphere superb & the characters engaging – albeit a bit stiff. Clearly a brilliant portrait of post war life (& its implications) in Britain, the story also manages to have a highly appropriate claustrophobic feel to it & a tension that steadily builds throughout. As far as I’m concerned, these are two of the most important elements in the genre. Sometimes, however, they are just not enough & I was tempted to say this was one of those times.
I’ll admit to approaching this with the highest of expectations -which may well have been a contributing factor. Still, I just felt something missing. Given the fact that the book was described as a “chilling ghost story” taking place in a huge, lonely & decaying mansion, I was expecting slightly more out of it – when it came to the “supernatural occurences and overall spookiness” factor. Maybe something along the lines of “The Secret of Crickley House”, by J. Herbert. Not getting that left me feeling slightly…cheated.
However, the “open” ending in all its ingenuity almost changed my mind. It twists the storyline so masterfully that you feel somehow compelled to forgive and forget the novel’s minor shortcomings. The fact that I’ve already started contemplating going back for a 2nd read (just so I can pick up all the little clues I seem to have missed along the way), makes me think I, for one, have…