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The Turn of the Screw

3.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  57,286 Ratings  ·  3,645 Reviews
A young governess is left in sole charge of two charming and beautiful orphans. As she begins to see and hear strange things, she grows increasingly uneasy, and is swiftly drawn into a frightening battle against unspeakable evil. Forced to take action, the governess will soon discover terrible consequences...
Paperback, RED edition, 128 pages
Published November 24th 2010 by Penguin Classics (first published October 13th 1898)
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Nemo So basically what he's saying is, If you think having a child involved in a scary situation makes it creepier, how about two children? He's using…moreSo basically what he's saying is, If you think having a child involved in a scary situation makes it creepier, how about two children? He's using "giving a turn of the screw" as an expression to mean "making it more intense". The guests answering "they give two turns" is them agreeing that it would indeed double the effect.(less)
Nola Redd There's also an implication that they sexually molested the children, which I first thought as I read and then saw again on wikipedia:

'Poet and…more
There's also an implication that they sexually molested the children, which I first thought as I read and then saw again on wikipedia:

'Poet and literary critic Craig Raine, in his essay "Sex in nineteenth-century literature", states quite categorically his belief that Victorian readers would have identified the two ghosts as child molesters'(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Now you see me,
description you don’t..
What the...

Meaning, understanding and certainty all become elusive chimera in this ambiguous game of hide-and-seek that Henry James plays with us. Have you ever been in one of those weird situations where you wondered if you were losing your mind, doubting whether what you were seeing was real? And... what it was that you were seeing?



This is one of those "what the heck??" novels that you often find in the modernist genre. Not originally classed as a modernist
Turn of the Screw is a pretty cool story. It's about a governess who either heroically attempts to protect her two charges from malevolent ghosts or goes dangerously bonkers. James leaves it ambiguous and I love that kind of story. Ambiguity works for me. Four stars for the plot. Kindof an abrupt ending though.

On the other hand there's his writing style. I was at this party once and the topic was what would you do if the world was ending and the answer was generally that we would have all the se
Jeffrey Keeten
May 04, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!”

 photo the-innocents-1961_zpsjib312lw.jpg
Screen shot from the 1961 version of The Innocents based on the James short story.

A governess is hired to look after the nephew and niece of a man who has inherited the responsibility for the children after the death of their parents. He is very explicit in his instructions to the governess that he is not to be bothered with e
Redonkulous! Where's my SPOOKY?!
I mean, I thought I'd get a few good jump scares out of a book with possessed children in it. You know what didn't happen, not even once, while I was listening to this book?


I'm not sure why my teenage self thought The Turn of the Screw was worth 4 stars, but my older-than-teenage self certainly doesn't.
On the surface, it seems like this should be a winner for me in the classic department - short, scary...short. But it was kinda crap.

So the gist is that thi
Jun 29, 2016 Jibran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction imagination had, in a flash, turned real. He did stand there!

I could not decide whether I was more intrigued by the Gothic thriller or the intricate jalebi of the prose, a truly - truly - labyrinthine prose, which James employs with great effect for the purpose of dissimulation. (Folks would later dub it 'unreliable narration.') You can trust James to phrase the most simplest of ideas and situations in the most imaginative of ways without making a fool of you; but if you still insist on cl
I often embrace the notion of writing being superior than plot to the extent of salvaging a lackluster body of the latter, very close to my heart. And it is stories like these that realign my reading meter in that direction.

Henry James’ story has no flaws per se; instead, has a pollen bearing promise to turn into a full feather. A series of apparition that haunts the governess of a house, driving her to cast her net of suspicion across all the residents, primarily the children, makes for a premi
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
May 13, 2010 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: committed fans of gothic/classic horror, fans of Henry James
Reading this story was a lot like standing in line opening weekend for a blockbuster you waited a year to see, and being underwhelmed. I was disappointed. I've heard about this story as being one of the best ghost stories ever written. I was so excited to read it. So excited was I, I had to download it to my Kindle to read right away, even though I have this story in one of my paperback collections. I love psychological horror, but I don't think a good psychological horror novel should leave the ...more
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
2.5 stars.
Interesting, this one...
Oct 28, 2015 Evgeny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
The plot of this classic Gothic book is well-known, so I will hit only the high points. A governess is hired by an English gentleman to take care of his orphaned nephew and niece. The only big condition for her work: she will never ever bother the guy with the problems with the kids. I could never figure out whether it was his eccentricity, or he just did not care about the kids much.

The governess' first impression of the place was very favorable and the kids were adorable. Add to this good sal
Paul Bryant
Jun 10, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spooky-ookums, novels

Paranormal Activity 6 : The Turn of the Screw



Anyway, great story, but I must mention three STYLISTIC ISSUES which may perhaps GRATE on the less patient reader.

1) In The Turn of the Screw, as in a lot of HJ’s stuff, people like to finish each other’s sentences :

“But aren’t they all – “
“Sent home? Yes.” P33

“Did she see anything in the boy –“
“That wasn’t right? She never told me.” P 36

“He c
2.5 Stars. GEESH.......Glad it's over! Great set-up to draw in the reader with the anticipated narration of an eerie old manuscript, but Whew! What a verbose read!

I usually love, love, love old creepy gothic horror stories, but this one (to me) was not scary or eerie or even very atmospheric. Now, there were a couple of "sightings" in a window, one in particular that made me think......oh we go, but my hopes were soon short lived.

Besides a couple of suspicious deaths and the strang

Jun 19, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ooh, what a fantastic ghost story! I've been meaning to read more Henry James, and this was such a fun gothic thriller that I'm even more impressed with his range of works.

The story is that a governess goes to an English country house to take charge of two orphaned children, Miles and Flora. The governess is told she must manage everything herself and not disturb the children's uncle, who is their guardian. Soon the governess is alarmed when she sees an unknown man and woman around the estate, a
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Me at 50%:

And 75%. And 90%.

I was actually really excited to read this classic Henry James novella, a gothic ghost story published in 1898. A young woman is hired to be the governess for two young orphans by their uncle, whose good looks and charm impress the governess. She wants to impress him in turn with her capability, especially when his main command to her is that she never, NEVER, bother him with any problems or concerns.

She's packed off to the uncle's country estate to meet young Flora an
Paul Bryant
Jun 10, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litcrit

It is the worst thing in the world to leave children with servants.
Maria Edgeworth , Practical Education, 1798

Of all the vulgar superstitions of the half educated, none dies harder than the absurd delusion that there is no such thing as ghosts.
William T Stead, Real Ghost Stories, 1897

The T of the S is a very mechanical matter, I honestly think – an inferior, a merely pictorial, subject and rather a shameless pot-boiler.
Henry James in a letter, 1898

Come, let us enter what Wayne Booth called “t
orsodimondo (a zonzo)
Jun 10, 2016 orsodimondo (a zonzo) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
Questo libro mi ha fatto paura, m'ha messo i brividi, m'ha costretto a leggere solo in presenza del sole per tenermi lontano da buio e tenebre: ci sono i fantasmi o li vede solo la governante? E' lei, figlia di un pastore, così rigida da inventarsi tutto o i fantasmi imperversano davvero? I bambini sono vittime, complici o addirittura carnefici?
E anche se tutte queste domande rimanessero senza risposta precisa, che importa? Si tratta comunque di una splendida unica storia d'amore.
Helen Stavraki
May 27, 2016 Helen Stavraki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Σύμφωνα με την εποχή που γράφτηκε,το βιβλίο ειναι αδιαμφισβήτητα μια ιστορία τρόμου,φαντασίας και ψυχολογικής έντασης.
Η αλήθεια ειναι πως ο συγγραφέας εξ αρχής ακροβατεί ανάμεσα σε πραγματικά ή φανταστικά γεγονότα και καταστάσεις που αφήνει την εξήγηση τους στη διακριτική ευχέρεια του αναγνώστη.
Επομένως μέσα σε όλη την ομιχλωδη και την αδιευκρίνιστη εξέλιξη της πλοκής το βιβλίο τούτο ή το λατρεύεις ή το μισείς. Δεν αφήνει περιθώρια μέσης λύσης.

Το δικό μου συμπέρασμα δεν έχει να κάνει με φαντά
Nov 07, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: brit lit fans, people who like psychological readings of texts
Creepy. Twisty-turny. Ghosts. Weird kids. Unreliable, possibly insane narrator. Henry James, is there no genre that you will not poke your head into?

No, really. It's interesting though. On the surface, this story is perfect to curl up by the fire with on a cold winter's night. Which is exactly how the book is framed, by the way. As a story told in front of a fireside on a cold winter's night. It's short, it reads quickly, and is open to pretty much whatever you want to make of it. James lets yo
Jason Koivu
Oct 03, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm quite upset! Henry James scared the bejeezus out of me and I demand he put it back! I loved my bejeezus...

The Turn of the Screw is old school horror. More eerie and creepy rather than horrid and ghastly, but effective in its ability to scare with atmosphere and suggestion. What better setting to do so than the cold, damp and lonesome English countryside?
Jan 20, 2016 Nikoleta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, ghostly
Το Στρίψιμο της βίδας το προσέγγισα όχι ως απλό ανάγνωσμα, αλλά με μία ψυχολογική ανάλυση για την παιδική ηλικία και την σκληρή μετάβαση στην ενηλικίωση.
Είδα τα παιδιά ως καθαρές ψυχές, σχεδόν σαν λευκή κόλλα χαρτί, να προσεγγίζουν το Κακό και το Καλό με την ίδια αγνότητα. Όπως είναι κάθε παιδί ανέγγιχτο από την ενοχή που προκαλεί η συνειδητοποίηση πολλών πραγμάτων καθώς ενηλικιωνόμαστε όπως η αισχρότητα, η ντροπή και άλλα.
Είδα την γκουβερνάντα ως το σύμβολο αυτό, που ήρθε να τους υποδείξει το Κ
Jul 07, 2007 Andrea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Henry James is tough and I find his text to be pretty convoluted. I have this "joke": the average letter count/word in this book is about 9. Of course, it's not, but I vaguely remember the need to read this book with a dictionary. That probably only makes me less educated.
It's also old, so the ghost story is not at all thrilling or causing a "page-turner" status. The same thing happens over and over again and it's "scary", all to arrive at an ambiguous climax that is interesting, but not really
Narrated by Emma Thompson, I enjoyed re-reading this classic, gothic novella.

I know many readers are not impressed by this book, but I enjoyed it, (again). I know it's rather verbose, especially considering the length of the book, but I found more than a few of the sentences to be outright chilling.

I've always loved psychological horror and ambiguous stories, so this one hits most of the marks for me. My original rating of the book, at 4 stars, stands.

Dec 08, 2010 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I died so I could haunt you
Recommended to Mariel by: opinions versus the sun
The Turn of the Screw takes place in multiple rooms in my brain. It hasn't taken up shop in my heart. It's a cold feeling, so the echo is made against stone walls that don't touch the rest of me. It's rare for a Henry James story to go there. If it does, it's in a "I hope that never happens to me" mental knee jerk way. I can't sort out how I feel about it because I'm caught up in the primordial longings. How the hell did they get there? I'm one to half convince myself it never happened, open you ...more
Petar X
May 05, 2015 Petar X rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
"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."

Really? I thought it was boring and dated and just a bit silly. It would make a good B movie and that's about it's level, for me anyway.
Maria Thomarey
Feb 12, 2016 Maria Thomarey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ο James ηταν υπαρξιστης πριν ο υπαρξισμος γίνει μόδα
Apr 07, 2016 Apatt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Spooky old house, creepy kids, very nicely narrated free audiobook. What’s not to like? Just about everything else as far as I am concerned. The protagonist is a gabby unnamed governess who sees dead people but ain’t afraid of no ghosts. In the meantime there is something very fishy about the two beautiful children in her charge, I imagine their omega-3 level must be through the roof.

Seriously though, one must not diss the classics even if one does not like them, it is very bad form. Certainly w
Dec 31, 2012 Mosca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who dares


Count me among the impressed. This is an extraordinary work.

But first a short introduction, I’ve read for my entire six decades of life. I’m college educated; but I have no Literary education past high school, nor have I any real background concerning Henry James other than a failed high school book report on Daisy Miller. I’ve read a very brief review on the internet by an admired friend who gave away little, but expressed an enormous respect for this work. Howev
Nov 16, 2014 Hana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hana by: Kim
Don't read this on a dark November night!!!

I was not in the mood last night to plunge into my current buddy read, so I turned to this classic Kindle freebie. It was short. The perfect bed-time story. NOT.

Scary as anything and seriously weird. At least five or six times I literally had chills running down my back and once I finished I couldn't sleep. I'm still not sure what it was all about, but I felt better when I saw from reviews on Goodreads that hundreds and hundreds of professor-types have
Dec 22, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In both literature and film I've always avoided horror stories, ghost stories and other narratives in which the supernatural features prominently. Call me a wuss, but that's the way it is for me. This may be the reason I've not read this novella before. The other reason may be that my only two prior experiences of reading Henry James are mixed. I liked The Portrait of a Lady (read circa 1976) and I remember nothing about The Golden Bowl (read circa 1978) other than that my university lecturer sa
Δεν ξέρω τι να γράψω για αυτό το βιβλιο. Ναι μου άρεσε η gothic ατμόσφαιρα, η ικανότητά του James να δημιουργεί μια σύγχυση και μια αγωνία στον αναγνώστη για την ακριβή φύση του κακού, να υπαινίσσεται το χειρότερο, αυτή η ταλάντευση ανάμεσα στο πραγματικό και το υπερφυσικό. Από την άλλη, αυτό το διφορούμενο, το ότι τίποτα δεν ήταν ξεκάθαρο, δεν μου ταίριαξε. Ήθελα πιο ξεκάθαρα πράγματα, κάποιες απαντήσεις στο τέλος, ίσως γιατί η δική μου εκδοχή είναι ότι η γκουβερνάντα ήταν εντελώς μουρλή και φα ...more
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Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the ...more
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“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!” 31 likes
“He was there or was not there: not there if I didn't see him.” 13 likes
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