A gripping gothic page-turner told in a startlingly different and wonderfully captivating voice. In a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle and banned from reading. Left to her own devices she devours books in secret and talks to herself in a unique language of her own invention. By night, she sleepwalks the corridors and is troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother Giles. Florence becomes convinced that her new governess is a vengeful and malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. Against this powerful supernatural enemy Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to both protect her little brother and preserve her private world.
©2010 John Harding (P)2011 WF Howes Ltd
This was really a great book. It kept me intrigued and glued to the book. I listened intently and it was a page turner. The narrator had a good voice and was acting rather than reading (something many narrators forget) and each character had a different voice, which is extremely important when listening so as to keep characters organized. It is a Victorian cozy with a hint of Harry Potter. Delicious.
Does the trend of creating one's own verbs truly annoy you ("We'll have to conference about that later.")? If so, you are guaranteed to hate this book, since Florence does this as her own "private" language every paragraph or so; I (sort of) got used to it, but an editor should held firm on excising a great deal of it before publication.
That aside, y'all should know up front that the ending's left open enough to drive a truck through - either Florence's version of events is accurate, or her grasp on reality is mighty tenuous. I was firmly with her until about 3/4 of the way through, where an event occurs that left me shocked. That last part of the story forced me to completely suspend disbelief; even in 1891 I don't think it would've been that easy to manage things so "under the radar" without a smart policeman strongly suspecting something.
Audio narration was well done, although the housekeeper in Maine sounded more Southern to me, and I caught no reference that was the case. I'd be willing to read a sequel (in fact, I'd welcome one!) to address, if not outright resolve, some of the issues.
The story itself is very good the right amount of gothic mystery. The only thing that I find wrong is Florence makes up her own language it makes the story sound very juvenile it really takes away from the the horror of the story.
"Gripping but incomplete? (Spoilers)"
The story moves along at a clip but there are many unanswered questions which feel more the product of a rushed job than an attempt to maintain suspense to the end
Who chopped up the photographs in Mrs Grouse's room?
What were the true circumstances of the deaths of the children's parents (biological and step)?
What was the significance of the mysterious uncle's fiancée except as a feeble excuse to keep Florence illiterate?
Why was miss Taylor so seemingly desperate to be appointed governess?
What exactly happened to Miss Whittaker?
Why did Florence take the train - to establish a false trail for miss Taylor?
The use of language is interesting and captured well the secret interior life of a neglected but highly imaginative girl although so many neologisms did start to grate towards the end. Overall, an engrossing but ultimately u satisfying book but, then again, I admit I love to have resolved endings
I could not stop listening brilliant storytelling. Listened in one day as I was gripped right the way through
I was really looking forward to this, but was very disappointed, I was hoping for a scary ghost story and didn't get one. There were bits stolen from the Turn of the Screw which I expected after reading the other reviews, but the story was just plain silly, and the ending predictable. The language spoken by Florence was amusing, it was very similar to the way they speak in the 'Firefly' series. The reader --- didn't help the book at all, irritating throughout, and more so when trying to do a male character.
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