Maureen Corrigan's review for NPR Books sums up much of what I love about The Uninvited Guests in its first paragraph: "A dark and stormy night; an isMaureen Corrigan's review for NPR Books sums up much of what I love about The Uninvited Guests in its first paragraph: "A dark and stormy night; an isolated manor house; a knock at the door. These are the surefire elements that have kept Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap creaking continuously on the London stage ever since its premiere in 1952. And these are the very same elements that make Sadie Jones' new novel, The Uninvited Guests, such a delicious romp to read." And, oh, what a romp Jones' novel is! Careful, though, if you attempt to read Corrigan's entire book review. It has a few spoilers in it. (I know, I know. I always have to warn people about spoilers.)
I could gush about this novel ALL day. It's bewitching, "Austenesque," eerie, brilliant, etc. I cannot stop thinking about the majestic, totally creative imagery in this book. Glance at a few Goodreads reviews, and you'll see that most people either love or hate Jones' novel. Obviously, I love it, so much so that I want you to leave me a comment if you have any "readalike" suggestions for me. I'm adding this one to my to-read-again pile for sure! This book began as a way for me to entertain myself while a passenger on a Thanksgiving road trip. As my kids watched Alice in Wonderland and Annie in the backseat, I sat up front, tuned out the sounds and devoured what has become an immediate favorite book of mine.
I can't begin to explain all that I loved in Jones' novel, but her descriptions of Sterne, an English manor house rapidly fading from its original glory, were certainly part of it. And Imogen "Smudge" Torrington will forever be one of my favorite characters. Here's just one of the many lovely sections describing the Torringtons' home: "They had reached a landing and went through the baize door onto a corridor, travelled the length of the house and at last reached Smudge's room, the only bedroom to abut the Old House, whose gloomy depths were directly through the wall against which her little iron bed stood. She should have liked to tunnel through the wall with a spoon and dance on the minstrels' gallery." So many of my favorite novels involve these types of magical, labyrinthine homes. If you're a sucker for these larger-than-life homes like I am, I highly recommend another novel that rivals The Uninvited Guests in its quirkiness as well as derelict dwellings – The Rathbones. ...more
I'm shocked that I didn't adore this novel. So many of my favorite Goodreads friends loved this, so I feel like a traitor giving it three stars. If II'm shocked that I didn't adore this novel. So many of my favorite Goodreads friends loved this, so I feel like a traitor giving it three stars. If I were rating this book on writing style, it would certainly get a well-deserved four. It's just that I have extremely high expectations for gothic novels, and this one fell short for me. Like the small group of people who didn't love The Little Stranger, I kept thinking the book was about to get good and, repeatedly, I was disappointed. I was absolutely convinced the ending would make up for the long sections where nothing creepy or interesting happened. If the last twenty pages had delivered a mind-blowing twist, this book might have redeemed itself. For me, the twist wasn't shocking. Maybe it didn't shock me because of my intense dislike of the characters or my impatience with the speed of the plot.
I do think the open-ended nature of the conclusion would be an excellent topic for a book club. Perhaps this novel would even be riveting if used for character study in a fiction course. It just wasn't for me. My disappointment in The Little Stranger is almost identical to my feelings toward Paranormal Activity. Just as I'm shocked that so many viewers were scared by that movie, I'm shocked that so many readers were creeped out by this book. ...more
When I first saw this book cover, I had a mental Will Smith moment: “Awwww, hell no!” I thought it was the same as those novels centered around knittiWhen I first saw this book cover, I had a mental Will Smith moment: “Awwww, hell no!” I thought it was the same as those novels centered around knitting or quilting but that lace was the new vehicle. Boy, was I wrong! It’s about so much more than lace reading (a kind of fortune telling based on the reading of lace), but I’m not here to plot summarize. I’ll say what I always say when I think a story is full of excellent twists. Be careful which reviews you read! I loved, loved, loved this story. It’s not some piece of literature that’s going to have a profound effect on your life once you’ve finished reading it, but it is the kind of story that draws you in & gives you something to look forward to during those moments of anticipation between chapters. If you like Salem, sketchy & eccentric characters, or stories where people look back on youth spent in a magical atmosphere (in their aunt’s rambling Victorian home or on some barely-populated island), then this book is for you. If you like just a hint of a ghost story but not a cheesy full-on haunting, this book is also for you. My favorite stories are those in which the main characters dig up long-buried family secrets, secrets which threaten to rewrite the history they thought they knew. Right before this novel, I read a similar one, as far as “skeletons in the closet," called The Monsters of Templeton. I couldn’t have picked better back-to-back reading than Lauren Groff & Brunonia Barry. Finally, please don’t be turned off by reviewers’ mention of the unreliable narrator in The Lace Reader. It’s truly part of the novel’s fun, and by the end, I think most of you will be satisfied with the explanation of events....more
Wow! I feel like anything I say about this beautiful book wouldn’t be worthy of describing the beauty that is this novel. Reading this was such a wiseWow! I feel like anything I say about this beautiful book wouldn’t be worthy of describing the beauty that is this novel. Reading this was such a wise investment of my time. As a mother to a one-year-old, I don’t get that much time to read, so I was hesitant to bite off a novel which could be considered “epic.” I’m so glad I did! My advice to you is to not read ANY plot synopses by other reviewers. Just find the book in the store & read the back cover, & that’s really all you need to decide whether or not to read it. I’m so glad I didn’t know anything other than the blurb on the back when I picked it up. If you like books which span four or five generations while revealing mind-blowing family secrets in a clever “page-turner” way, then Fall On Your Knees is for you. I loved the touch of Gothic throughout this novel, & if that’s an element you appreciate, then you also might like The River & Grange House. Finally, don’t let the “Oprah’s Book Club” stamp of approval drive you away from reading this. I’ve always been turned off by the Oprah association simply because recommending books is a privilege I reserve for a very few close friends. After loving this novel so much, I may have to reconsider my position. ...more
Combine the fictional mansions of Northanger Abbey and Wuthering Heights, add in some spine-tingling, authentically spooky tales resembling some of thCombine the fictional mansions of Northanger Abbey and Wuthering Heights, add in some spine-tingling, authentically spooky tales resembling some of the best episodes of "The Ray Bradbury Theater," and what do you get? THE GHOST WRITER –that's what! I haven't been this creeped out since watching “Saturday Nightmares” on the USA Network in the 80s! I was a child back then, and as an adult, I thought I'd never recapture the intense eeriness I felt when curled up watching those old movies on USA.
Many reviewers have done superb jobs of recounting the plot of this novel and conveying just how original and horrific Harwood's "stories within the story" are. I agree! I had long ago given up on reading ghost stories that weren't utterly corny, as there just aren't many modern day Edgar Allan Poes out there. I'm not satisfied with some dime-store author being touted as the next Stephen King. I was looking for a truly scary novel NOT found in the horror section. My friends, this is it! This is a novel for both intellectuals and for those just looking to be scared for the thrill of it, a novel that parodies the Victorian gothic while remaining unique and original. Publishers Weekly says it best: "Harwood's debut combines the kind of suspense that keeps readers up at night with a literary voice that allows them to respect themselves in the morning." I couldn't agree more!
On a final note, I suggest checking out Sarah Blake's Grange House – also written in the style of a Victorian novel – and Lisa Carey's In the Country of the Young if you're looking for other genuinely spooky reads not found in the horror section. ...more