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The House by the Churchyard

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu is best known today as one of the Victorian period's leading exponents of supernatural fiction, and was described by M.R. James as standing 'absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories'. The House by the Churchyard is perhaps his best novel in this genre. Set in the village of Chapelizod, near Dublin, in the 1760s the story opens with ...more
Paperback, 542 pages
Published August 5th 2007 by Wordsworth Editions (first published 1863)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Tristram Shandy
Simply one of the most gripping novels I have ever read

Admittedly, the first 200 or so pages of this book may be a major put-off to quite a number of readers, but then diamonds have to be cut thoroughly before you can see them shine, and what Sheridan Le Fanu tells us about the inhabitants of Chapelizod is extremely hilarious, no doubt, though maybe not linked too closely with the main plot. However, sticking to the point, like a fly to a pudding, is over-estimated, anyway.

Basically “The House b
Jon Recluse
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A charming tale of ghosts, mystery and murder set in Ireland during the 1700s. While a touch slow in the early going, Le Fanu's careful recreation of village life at the time reaps rewards for the patient reader. ...more
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
To anyone who has the patience and application this is one of the great works of literature bringing as it does the atmosphere of having been written at the time of the Irish Holocaust-the potato famine of 1847+. Stylistically it is as near to perfect as a narrative is likely to be, the writer's attention to detail in describing a still living suburb(in the 21st Century) of Dublin in the mid 19th Century of life in the 18th Century for one who knows the area intimately, is fantastic.
The humour a
I did not finish this book.

if your really interested in reading this, skip the free version and try to find an up to date version. There are errors galore in the free version. and the Irish accent, sorry Mr. Le Fanu, but it's really hard to read written down. or at least in this book. i gave it 3 tries and it put me to sleep every time.
Benjamin Stahl
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
For anyone else who likes Gothic ghost stories - especially those specifically written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - the first thing I would want to tell you about this book is that it is not a ghost story. Granted, there is one very, very effective chapter about a haunted house, and that chapter itself stands alone as a near-perfect short story. But otherwise, this 500+ page book gives its yearning horror aficionados nothing more than the very occasional (and I cannot emphasise the word "occasio ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
I had assumed, from Sheridan Le Fanu’s reputation as a forefather of supernatural fiction, and from the gothicky title of this novel, that this would be some tasty piece of 19thC literary ghostiness à la M. R. James. The opening chapter do little to dispel this impression, with their grisly exhumation of a mutilated skull in a suburban Dublin churchyard, and the reburial of a body in mysterious circumstances.

Appearances can be deceptive, however. This is no more a tale of the uncanny than I am a
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
"The House by the Churchyard" is a novel by Sheridan Le Fanu published in 1863 that combines elements of the mystery novel and the historical novel. According to Wikipedia "aside from its own merits, the novel is important as a key source for James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"." Now I don't know if that is true, if it is then James Joyce wrote a better novel with "Finnegans Wake" then he did with "Ulysses". "Ulysses" is, of all the books I've made it to the end of - there are two I gave up on - my l ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I originally bought this book to get in the mood for Halloween thinking it was going to be a creepy story. I had read Uncle Silas and loved it. I assumed "The House by the Churchyard" would be just as good and hoped it would be especially because the book is so thick!

I felt overwhelmed by the number of characters when I first began reading. The confusion cleared up some as I read on but not completely because there were so many personalities to keep straight. I remember reading for some time and
Harsh Kumar
Jan 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this one up for buddy reads.
I tried and I tried alot. But alas I had to quit eventually. I was able to finish some 10 chapters and then it became dull. Cannot help it.
Found this one boring. My friends gave it up as well.
I have been busy alot lately.
Maybe I will keep this one for some other time when I do not have other things on my mind
'Why, I suppose there isn't so tattling, prying, lying, scandalous a little colony of Christians on earth; eyes, ears, and mouths all open, Sir; heads busy, tongues wagging; lots of old maids, by Jove; ladies' women, and gentlemen's gentlemen, and drawers and footmen; club talk, Sir, and mess-table talk, and talk on band days, talk over cards, talk at home, Sir - talk in the streets - talk - talk; by Jupiter Tonans! 'tis enough to bother one's ears, and make a man envy Robinson Crusoe!'

Susan Wight
Oct 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is one of those rare books that I have given up on.
150 pages in, I was still stuck with a confusing array of characters - none of whom emerged as the protagonist. I also had no idea of which events were important to the plot and which were light relief. There seemed to be an awful lot of light relief for a Gothic tale. During a burial in the prologue, a skull is unearthed which bears the marks of a violent death. IN the novel proper, the bulk of the action takes place some hundred years ea
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Le Fanu's third novel is markedly inferior to its predecessors. There is no sign in this stupefyingly prolix book of the wit and excitement of The Cock and Anchor, and even The Fortunes of Colonel Torlogh O'Brien
furnished a greater number of memorable moments.

With commercial success eluding him, Le Fanu appears to have set out to manufacture a product more pleasing to mid-Victorian audiences, accustomed to huge doses of raw sentimentality, a very leisurely pace, and a broad artistic canvas: ev
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it

Many of le Fanu's stories take place in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, and in the nearby village of Chapelizod: 'Ghost Stories of Chapelizod' and later this novel 'The House by the Churchyard'.

A modern reader might find some of the stories less than spine-chilling and some might dislike the long sentences used by a 19th century author, but I found them readable rather than turgid and always meticulously grammatical. The stories are interesting in the context of the history of Gothic fiction and of so
It was a mess in places but I love Sheridan Le Fanu and I really liked the portrait of a little Irish town and the good people living there - marginal characters being much more interesting than the main ones.
Luna Selene
Jun 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Oh, Le Fanu, how you leave your stories unfinished!

The House by the Churchyard is an engaging tale, but as I've experienced with Le Fanu before, a little drawn out and unsatisfying at the end. I've begun to wonder if he remembers the things he starts but never brings to a close!
Diana Marques | Papéis e Letras
Another horror and mystery story written by an irish writer.
Sep 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
This probably wasn't what it sounded to be even in 1863. No horror/gothic/supernatural-ness, and far too much Irish nineteenth-centuryism for children of the 2000s. ...more
Jim Dooley
In trying to come up with a sense of what it was for me as a modern Reader to experience THE HOUSE BY THE CHURCH-YARD, the example that immediately came to mind was of watching the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks.” The set-up and resolution of the main mystery was fascinating, and I enjoyed many of the interactions with the citizenry as they went through their daily lives. However, there was also the “adopting Nicky” story, the “Miss Twin Peaks” story, the “Save The Weasel” story ... to the poi ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-owned
Like other readers, I fell in love with In a Glass Darkly and Uncle Silas , so I thought House By the Churchyard would be right up my alley. Perhaps my own high and misguided expectations lead me astray. Although the publisher deserves some blame, pitching this as "perhaps (Le Fanu's) best novel" in the genre of supernatural fiction/ghost stories. It's not really that type of novel. Once this realization set in, it became a slow, laborious read.

At least I can understand why this book inf
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked this up last year purely based on the fact that the cover and the title intrigued me. I hadn't ever heard of it before seeing it on the shelf and didn't do any research into how people felt about it but a novel called The House by the Churchyard, that's labelled as 'Mystery & Suspense', seemed right up my street. I'm interested in reading more Gothic horror/mystery stuff and thought this would be a good one for me because it's set in Chapelizod which is just down the road from where I l ...more
Steve Payne
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
As Sheridan LeFanu is one of my favourite writers and it's a lifetime aim to read all his works, it pains me to say that this was a real slog to get through. I'd read reviews that suggested the first half was hard going with dozens and dozens of characters appearing willy-nilly from all over the place, but that it improves in the second half. Well, by the time I'd gotten to the second half I think I was beaten down with the tedium. About the only memorable part is the opening two or three chapte ...more
Del de la Mare
Unfortunately this book is going on my 'hours of my life I'll not get back' shelf.
I found this book a terrible chore to read and only finished it because I'd started it.
Le Fanu takes a promising beginning and an excellent ending but fills the rest of the book with a bunch of inane infill. By the time I'd got halfway through the book I couldn't give a fig whether most of the character's lived, died or turned into zombies.
The book starts with a mysterious burial and the discovery of a skull with e
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know that somewhere in the hundreds and hundreds of pages, dozens of characters and numerous subplots there is a point to this novel. I just never found it. Reading this book was an exercise in patience and by the last 10% my patience was entirely exhausted. I am not saying this isn’t a good book, I think it may well be a good book. But it’s a book that requires sustained patience and a meditative pace of reading. I will definitely reread this in the future. Hopefully I’ll figure out who is wh ...more
I had to abandon this tiresome plodding mystery. Not at all what I expected, complicated and full of comic diversions that have little to do with the main mystery plot. Absolutely devoid of atmosphere. I cannot understand why M.R. James considered this Le Fanu's best novel over Uncle Silas. ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
These stories probably deserve better than 2 stars. LeFanu was Irish and many of much of his work was written for consumtion by Irish readers. It's written in a mid 19th century Irish dialect that I found difficult to wade through. If such things don't bother you give it a try. ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I am reading the Project Gutenberg version.

This is one of the ==>countless<== books that were in James Joyce's mind as he worked on _Finnegans Wake_.
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
On my to read list thanks to recommendations by both M. R. James and H. P. Lovecraft. (Hmm, not 100% sure on the Lovecraft, now that I think of it.)
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fiction
A well crafted book. Humor, suspense, mystery... a well developed cast of characters and a great read.
Nancy George
Mar 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: done-incomplete
Can't get thru this....can't even get ahold on what is happening and to whom ...more
David Wright
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an intriguing mixture of styles, interwoven into a novel that constantly had me changing my mind.
The story starts out with the discovery of a body with severe head wounds, the weather is rainy, the wind is howling - all setting an atmospheric beginning. It then starts an incredibly long narrative, in the form of a recounting of the tale and how things came to pass.
The author did an incredible job of describing life in the village and outlying areas. The characters are remarkably lifelik
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Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M.R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories". Three of his best-known works are Uncle Silas, Carmilla and The House by the Churchyar ...more

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