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The Orphan Choir

2.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,699 Ratings  ·  346 Reviews

Louise Beeston is being haunted.

Louise has no reason left to stay in the city. She can't see her son, Joseph, who is away at boarding school, where he performs in a prestigious boys' choir. Her troub
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Picador (first published January 2014)
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I'm becoming quite the expert on these Hammer horror novellas: first The Greatcoat, then The Daylight Gate, then The Quickening, and now this. The Orphan Choir is narrated by Louise Beeston, the mother of seven-year-old Joseph, who has won a much-coveted place in the choir of Saviour College School. Unfortunately, this privilege requires him to become a boarding pupil, and Louise is both depressed at the amount of time she has to spend separated from her son, and fearful that others will think h ...more
Matthew Gray
This is the first book in years that has physically infuriated me. It gets 2 stars only because the protagonist gets what I wanted her to get at the end.
This is the story of Louise Beeston, contender for most annoying mother of the year, who is plagued by a neighbour who plays loud music a few times and therefore, naturally, sends our hero into fits of absurd hysteria, and also has to contend with the pain of having her son away at a choir school, and she wants him back. One hundred pages in and
Patrice Hoffman
Lately I haven't had much time to read books as voraciously as I used to so I have been extremely particular with what books I allow to occupy my limited time. The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah is one of the books I decided to read based on it being described as a woman's ascent into madness with horror elements in it. The first part is quite true but the second half of that assessment is very far from the truth.

The Orphan Choir is narrated by Louise. A woman who is driven mad by the insane thu
Claire Meadows
I read several women's magazines that said that this was 'utterly scary' and 'will keep you up all night'.

It's not - and it didn't.

Louise is unlikeable - so self absorbed and conceited that I didn't really care about what happened to her.

Not for me at all - I'm just glad I got it on offer, and not paid full price.

Note to Self and Others - don't pay attention to women's magazine book reviews
Bill Kupersmith
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ghost story readers, Anglicans
Recommended to Bill by:
This ghost story is built around Anglican ritual, specifically choral evensong, the sung version of the service of evening prayer according to the traditional Book of Common Prayer, as it would be observed in the chapel of a Cambridge college. The college here is called Saviour. It boasts an excellent choir of sixteen boys who reside at college during term time. Our narrator, Louise or Lou, is the mother of one of the youngest choristers, Joseph, age seven.

It is obvious from the beginning of The
H.A. Leuschel
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick well written story with spooky bits but not too spooky for the likes of me who are easily spooked ... It's my first encounter with Sophie Hannah's writing and I will certainly look out for another of her books in the future!
Susan Northen
Oct 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was so disappointed with this book. I was lured into reading it and was very excited to read it because of the blurb I had read in a magazine which said it would keep me awake at night with fear. Great I thought! I read it over four days, quickly, because I was desperate for it to actually get going. It was yawningly boring for a supposed scary ghost story which wasn't really a ghost story at all until right at the end, the last few pages. Which in themselves were equally disappointing. It was ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well I am never getting that time back!
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thrillers
Creepy psychological thriller FTW.

I love Sophie Hannah, and while I didn't inhale The Orphan Choir the way I did, say, Little Face, I did stay up half the night reading it. I love, love, love the fact that the protagonist is so unlikable. She's unlikable in a very real way; several times while I was reading I found myself making faces at the page and thinking how very much I would hate to be married to someone like that. It's exhausting to be Louise Beeston. She's paranoid and neurotic and narci
Nov 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A extraordinarily bad novel, which is made worse by the neurotic and bizarre obsessions of the main character. Most of the book was taken up by noise nuisance information and we didn't get to the nitty gritty of the orphan choir until about halfway through the book. The ending had no real connection to the obsessions running through the book, so essentially it felt a bit shoved together at the last minute. 1.5 stars, because it was quite bad in an entertaining way.
Marissa Morrison
Feb 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
This may be the worst book I've ever read that does not promote objectionable ideas. The plot is so bad that I felt personally insulted by the author's thinking that a reader such as myself might enjoy it.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this well enough, but I felt the ending and conclusion were rushed and not sufficient payoff for what came before.
James Mcquillan
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have read most of Sophie Hannah's books and have liked them all but this is the worst book I have ever read
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
É difícil para mim escrever uma opinião deste livro porque:
- Até mais de meio, foi uma seca para mim lê-lo (não ando com muita sorte com os livros), muito repetitivo, sem grande coisa a acontecer e bastante previsível.
- A partir da parte em que deixou de ser seca foi de leitura compulsiva, se bem que... também me arruinou um outro livro que tenho para ler, um clássico que se chama: "The woman in black"... pois diz se gostei desse, iria gostar deste e assim, percebi a temática do clássico...

Um ca
Sean Smart
Nov 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this but didnt - I think the main problem was a promotional sticker on the cover saying something like - "If you loved the Woman in Black you will love this." I did really enjoy the original Woman black novel by Susan Hill but this was nothing like it and not as scary at all.

It was well written and I felt for the main character who had a very hard time from a noisy neighbour from hell and an uncaring husband, and who missed her 7 year old son very much but it felt like it
Review originally published here:

The Orphan Choir is a strange book. More than half of the book is exposition, setting up for this grand and mysterious supernatural event to happen in the last fifty-or-so pages. This isn’t particularly bad – I like horror stories with a good build up – but the problem here is that the climax is so anticlimatic it feels like the build up is going nowhere. There are so many inconsistencies in this book and so many moments w
Antonina Kozłowska
WTF? Co to właściwie miało być?
Shell Louise
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a change from the other Sophie Hannah books I've read and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It got me back into reading after the break I took in December (too busy to find the time!).
I hope SH writes some books like this.
I'll be doing a full review on my blog
Joanne Sheppard
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Orphan Choir is the third novel I've read in Hammer's series of horror novels by by non-horror authors - the others being Helen Dunmore's The Greatcoat, which I loved, and Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate, which I wanted to love but didn't. By crime writer and poet Sophie Hannah, The Orphan Choir is part ghost story, part psychological thriller, with a tense, oppressive atmosphere and an intriguingly unreliable narrator.

The story opens with narrator Louise driven to distraction by a fe
Jonathan Crossfield
Jun 30, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost-stories
The sticker on the cover insists that if you liked The Woman in Black, you'll love this. This isn't surprising as the book is published by Hammer who produced the recent film adaptation and are now going to milk that ghost classic even further with a sequel.

But this book has about as much in common with Susan Hill's brilliant novel as Count Duckula has with Christopher Lee's Dracula.

A ghost story has to be scary. But when the first person narrator doesn't even realise there is anything supernatu
Keith Walters
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With Hammer books snapping up some great authors already to work on their books, Shaun Hutson, Julie Myerson, Jeanette Winterson, Helen Dunmore and Tim Lebbon to name a few, it’s great news that crime authors seem to be stepping up to the mark now too.

Martyn Waites recently announced that he is penning a sequel to one of Hammer’s greatest and most recent hit ‘The Woman in Black’ and now we have Sophie Hannah with this slow burn but very rewarding tale. What starts out as a ‘neighbours from hell’
Won this in the Goodreads -FirstReads giveaway program. Looks quite interesting!


And that is where it stops. Initial looks and synopsis sound good, delivery was lacking ANY punch.
I don't even know how to genre this. It isn't a horror-way too mild- but mystery isn't quite it. How about Annoying ranting and ravings with a slight horrific/mystery twist at the end. And I do mean slight. You can tell something is going on throughout the book that is of
Lorrie McCullers
Feb 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2014
I have loved all of Sophie Hannah's other books, so I was excited to read this one. Well, that feeling didn't last very long.

After only a few pages in, I wanted to strangle Louise Beeston myself. Annoying, shouty, and unreasonable don't even begin to describe this character. I found myself rooting for the noisy neighbor.

This book is touted as a ghost story, but it barely contains a supernatural element, and it's so forced into the story that it almost feels like an after-thought.

I hope Sophie H
Renita D'Silva
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading Sophie Hannah is like meeting up with an old friend - I know I will have a good time. A departure from her psychological thrillers and yet, just as good, this gothic horror tale kept me enthralled and scared me in equal measure. Like all her books, I did not see what was coming. Spine chilling, goose bump inducing, brilliant.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This was very unexpected. So different from what I thought, and I have to say I was disappointed. It didn't live up to my expectations. I was expecting either a song about music, or a horror or something, but I suppose that's what I get from not reading the blurb :p I'm pleased it was a shorty, because I didn't want to have to keep listening. I commend Stuart for (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
If I hadn't already read some of Sophie Hannah's other than work, I would not be inclined to pick up another one after this. Luckily, I enjoyed two of her other books before this, so I know that she's a talented writer. However, this book was pretty boring. It was a creepy premise and might have made a decent short story, but it really didn't interest me much until the last 30 pages or so. If you've never read anything of hers, read Little Face or The Wrong Mother first!!
Nov 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
* Spoilers*

Absolute rubbish.

Ghosts stories are all about the atmosphere, and there was none here. Honestly, if I had picked up this book without knowing it was meant to be a ghost story the ending would have come out of nowhere, that's how little the supernatural features throughout this book before the last 20 pages.

I think perhaps Sophie Hannah was trying to go for a 'Turn of the Screw'-type story, where the reader is unsure whether there really are ghostly goings-on or whether the narrator i
Jul 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: supernatural
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sound is loud, coming from the next-door neighbor’s house, and it has jolted Louise Beeston right out of her sleep. It is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and it is the song that usually starts it all. The weekend music blasting cruelly into her bedroom. No matter how many times she has politely requested that the neighbor, Justin Clay, please turn it down.

Her husband Stuart is nonchalant. He is not even pretending to be supportive. In fact, the noise doesn’t really bother him. He can sleep thro
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning I had a few reservations about this book. I wasn't sure how long the author could use the noisy neighbour as the focal point of the story and it seemed as though things weren't moving along as quick as I would expect. I am pleased to report that there was in fact a good reason she focused on this part of the story and that soon after there was a turning point in the story that not only made it worth the time to read, but surprised me in the process.

I enjoyed this book. Sophie H
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Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensiti ...more
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“If you only have one world, one life, then however brilliant it is most of the time, you have nowhere to run when you need to escape from it for a while.” 2 likes
“Freddy Mercury's reflections about supersonic women are making me glad that I've never met one: they sound like a bit of a handful - not very easy-going.” 1 likes
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