The Turn of the Screw - Henry James

Synopsis: Widely recognized as one of literature’s most gripping ghost stories, this classic tale of moral degradation concerns the sinister transformation of two innocent children into flagrant liars and hypocrites. The story begins when a governess arrives at an English country estate to look after Miles, aged ten, and Flora, eight. At first, everything appears normal but then events gradually begin to weave a spell of psychological terror.

Without resorting to clattering chains, demonic noises, and other melodramatic techniques, this elegantly told tale succeeds in creating an atmosphere of tingling suspense and unspoken horror matched by few other books in the genre. Known for his probing psychological novels dealing with the upper classes, James in this story tried his hand at the occult — and created a masterpiece of the supernatural that has frightened and delighted readers for nearly a century.




This is not for those who like definitive answers in the fiction they consume. This novella doesn’t wrap up nicely; you won’t finish this one feeling you have any sort of handle on what you just read. You’ll just know you were at the mercy of a masterfully wrought story about ghosts (possibly), psychosis (possibly), and paranoia (definitely). I already want to reread this sucker.


Published in the late 1890s, The Turn Of The Screw is the classic tale of a financially strapped young woman who gets hired on as governess at a large country estate in London. Essentially she runs the house, oversees the help staff, and teaches the niece and nephew of her employer their daily school lessons. The children — aged ten and eight, respectively — are beautiful, mild-mannered, and affectionate . . . And, yet, she begins to feel something is off with them. As well, she begins to see ghosts around the estate — and no one else seems to see them. Or do they?


I really can’t say a lot about this one without spoiling it, so I’ll try to keep it succinct. This is a fascinating read, and I was engrossed from the first page. I especially enjoyed the governess, but I dug everyone else too. This is a work that relies on inferring and leaving blanks. Nothing is spelled out, and the horror lies in what is hinted at or seen off-screen. If that ain’t your thing, don’t waste your time with this one. Me? I love implicated horror — that’s what scares me most. Slasher novels and serial killers don’t do a thing for me. Give me a creaky old house with uneasy spirits, and I won’t sleep for days.


Again, there is so much worth saying about this one, but I won’t go there. Spoilers aren’t cool. I enjoyed this one immensely, and it was a great way to start off Halloween Bingo! Though it could fit in a few categories on the card, I’ll use it as my ‘classic horror’ read.


Original post:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s