Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Beckoning Fair One” as Want to Read:
The Beckoning Fair One
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Beckoning Fair One

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  280 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
"Miles ahead of the average ghost-story" — Sunday Times. A novelist retreats to an abandoned house in the heart of London, where he becomes enthralled by an 18th-century spirit — and where his contact with the outside world gradually diminishes. Acclaimed by such masters as Lovecraft as one of the best ghost stories in the English language.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published August 30th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1911)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Beckoning Fair One, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Beckoning Fair One

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Althea Ann
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What really makes this story is how what's terrifying about the ghost is how its influence affects the mind and moods of the characters... Over and above shadows and bumps in the night, it's the depression and despair that accompany its presence.

A writer rents out a suite in a decrepit and long-empty home. Sinking his savings into renovations, he's eager to show the apartment off to his lady-friend, whom he anticipates will be delighted by what he's done with the old place. However, her reaction
Johnny Waco
Dec 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This 1911 ghost story is an impressive example of suggestion and atmosphere, as a struggling novelist, Paul Oleron, rents a floor of a dilapidated house and is slowly seduced by something ghostly. Onions unfolds the story languidly, beginning with incidents that could just as easily be Oleron's imagination as a supernatural presence: an ancient melody he can't stop humming, a visitor scratched by a nail he swore he removed. Uncovering the hidden, nailed-down window boxes gives us our first clue ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly Cagney
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this novella because of a painting I own. It was given to me by my father, and it previosly belonged to my great-grandmother. She'd been given this strange painting of a woman by an artist friend, and on the back it has the title The Beckoning Fair One. I wanted to find out more about the painting so I Googled it and found this story. It's quite an intriguing read, full of suspense that kept me up half the night wanting to see how it ended.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It seems as if there is somewhat of a gap in my experience of ghost stories if it has taken me this long to finally read this classic by Oliver Onions. Better late than never, however, and I must say it is one of the finest spectral tales that I have ever read! It contained all the elements that I find most enticing in a ghost stories: a tortured artist, obsession, madness, unrequited love and passion, the subtlest hints of lust, ambiguity... I truly found this to be a masterpiece of this partic ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I listened to a Librivox recording for this story. the reader did very well. the story started out so slow. i didn't think it picked up until desperate friend started getting hurt then it slowed back down. overall it was ok. it could have been A LOT shorter, though.
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
Odd, yet compelling.
Julie Davis
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I never reviewed this novella. I read it on Forgotten Classics in three parts as it is rather long.

We will be discussing it on SFFaudio where Jesse very kindly put all the pieces together into one complete audiobook for those who want to listen before hearing our discussion.

Many people complain of this being a slow, meandering tale but I found this explained by the author's own forward which explains his approach to the ghost story. These are just a few snippets but I hope they c
Michael Adams
Well written short horror / ghost story. Follows the final days of a frustrated novelist and his unrequited love to a rather grim and ambiguous ending. The troubles begin upon moving into new lodgings, a dilapidated old house, one with a curious, haunted, or even accursed history. As with many such tales, events begin playing out in a cyclical manner, history repeating itself, and we are led inexorably to a murky and dark conclusion. A few tricks with an unreliable narrator are played, leaving u ...more
Shawn Birss
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This classic novella of eery horror brings to mind The Shining. A writer is driven to madness as his wits, his passions, and his inspiration are replaced by dark, supernatural evils within the building that is his new home. The narration expertly carries us through various states of our protagonist's fear and folly, changing in tone and clarity to match the waxing and waning of the character's own lucidity. The largest complaint I have of the book is that I found it too long. It is a novella, wh ...more
Jonas Wilmann
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very alternative ghost story that may serve as a sort of precautionary tale for those who delve TOO deeply into the darkest recesses of their creativity. While reading, one wonders if the so called 'haunted' apartment author Paul Oleron moves into, is not in fact haunted by himself ... A spinechilling meta-story thematically exploring the 'gift of writing' as an unbearable curse.
Laura Garner
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My favorite ghost story of all time. Subtle yet terrifying, in a Victorian way. And the idea of a man (or woman) preferring some romanticized, probably non-existent ideal over a real, solid, flawed woman (or man) ... I'd call that a timeless theme.
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Really an unnerving, very effective ghost story. I loved this.
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
It's a 3.5 stars read, I like the writing and the characters, but the very, very faint ending is a bit of a letdown.
Suzy Nash
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps the scariest haunted house story I have ever read.
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This early 20th century haunted house story follows the case of a young, relatively poor, male British writer who decides to save money by taking an old apartment in the bad part of town. Once he's settled in, he interprets a number of very strange happenings as indicating that the apartment is haunted by a sensitive and extremely attractive female ghost of the previous century.

The writer feels things aren't going well with him, and it's perhaps understandable that he lets his interest in the g
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what I thought about the ending, but the rest of the book was well written and original.
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Certainly intriguing, although I did have problems trudging through the some what bloated middle. I forced myself to continue because I was curious whether the "beckoner" would finally appear, and whether Oleron would die.
I know it is meant to leave the mystery of whether he just had a break down or whether there actually was a presence. But based on the few details related in the story, I believe she was a succubus/demon instead of a ghost. The author also made several refrences to the letter
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-book, classic
Onions does an excellent job of leading us readers into the twilight zone. Especially liked the part in which Oleron becomes ultra-aware of the minutest sounds going on in the house, and begins to realize that the house is like a mirror-being of himself. Deliciously creepy. In my opinion he could have gone farther with it than he did, but it was good nonetheless. One of those books that is so obviously the basis for this entire genre of horror\ghost\gothic. (The book I really want to read of Oni ...more
Greg Kerestan
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a writer who sometimes struggles with procrastination, this one hit a little too close to home. Onions's novella of a struggling author who gradually becomes possessed either by his own madness or by the vampiric spirit of his new apartment is a slow burner, but that delicate ambiguity of madness versus supernatural intervention lends it an aura of menace that makes a genuine frisson of the last two chapters.
Jeff Miller
Sep 20, 2010 rated it liked it
This novella is a pretty decent Ghost story written in 1911 that is really quite good and includes elements more common today in horror stories - though not gore wise.

A writer buys a house to finish his book and his personality starts to change as the house influences him and tries to get rid of others.

What a name Oliver Onions is and not surprisingly it is not a pseudonym.
Jennifer Kelly
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of this novella but it sounded interesting when I found it on glad I found it. The atmosphere of doom and impending madness was brilliant. Creepy as hell! What a classic that needs reviving.
Trish Graboske
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The best kind of ghost story, in which you are never sure whether the ghost is real or not. It absolutely could be real, but alternatively, It might just be in the susceptible novelist's mind.
Mark McLaughlin
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Oliver Onions was a great writer of the supernatural. His ghost stories are perfectly crafted and profound.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
A masterpiece within psychological horror.
Lawrence Carpin
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
if you want a creepy story then this you have to read.
Feb 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended story "The Beckoning Fair One" in his "Forenote to the Paperback Edition" from King's Berkley's 1983 edition of Danse Macabre (revised).
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Rather strange. Great ending.
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Jenn Li
Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the best horror short story ever written.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
  • The Uninvited
  • Great Irish Tales of Horror: A Treasury of Fear
  • A Thin Ghost and Others
  • Great Ghost Stories
  • Tales Of The Uncanny And Supernatural
  • Sweetheart, Sweetheart
  • The Sin Eater
  • The Monkey's Paw and Other Tales of Mystery and Macabre
  • The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories (Mystery & Supernatural)
  • The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories
  • The House Of A Thousand Candles
  • The Dark: New Ghost Stories
  • The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories
  • The Grotesque
  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
  • The Trail of the Serpent
  • The Nether World
  • Gothic Tales
Oliver Onions was born in Bradford in 1873. Although he legally changed his name to George Oliver in 1918, he always published under the name Oliver Onions. Onions originally worked as a commercial artist before turning to writing, and the dust jackets of his earliest works included illustrations painted by Onions himself.

Onions was a prolific writer of short stories and novels and is best remembe
More about Oliver Onions...
“Let me go--I'm not wanted--let me take away what's left of me--” 0 likes
“...there was no second attempt. Fate has no Morrow.” 0 likes
More quotes…