Set in a 400-year-old boys' boarding school in London, a chilling gothic thriller by the author of the critically acclaimed A Good and Happy Child....
A fierce and jealous ghost....
A young man's fight for his life....
The Harrow School is home to privileged adolescents known as much for their distinctive dress and traditions as for their arrogance and schoolboy cruelty. Seventeen-year-old American Andrew Taylor is enrolled in the esteemed British institution by his father, who hopes that the school's discipline will put some distance between his son and his troubled past in the States.
But trouble - and danger - seem to follow Andrew. When one of his schoolmates and friends dies mysteriously of a severe pulmonary illness, Andrew is blamed and is soon an outcast, spurned by nearly all his peers. And there is the pale, strange boy who begins to visit him at night. Either Andrew is losing his mind, or the house legend about his dormitory being haunted is true.
When the school's poet-in-residence, Piers Fawkes, is commissioned to write a play about Byron, one of Harrow's most famous alumni, he casts Andrew in the title role. Andrew begins to discover uncanny links between himself and the renowned poet. In his loneliness and isolation, Andrew becomes obsessed with Lord Byron's story and the poet's status not only as a literary genius and infamous seducer but as a student at the very different Harrow of two centuries prior - a place rife with violence, squalor, incurable diseases, and tormented love affairs.
When frightening and tragic events from that long-ago past start to recur in Harrow's present, and when the dark and deadly specter by whom Andrew's been haunted seems to be all too real, Andrew is forced to solve a 200-year-old literary mystery that threatens the lives of his friends and his teachers - and, most terrifyingly, his own.
©2011 Justin Evans (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
I'm walking the dog in broad daylight, listening to the book and when the narrator makes this sound - the sound of the antagonist's labored breathing - I stop, hunch up and start looking over my shoulder. Wonderfully eerie, adept job of narration with one of the best American accents I've heard from a British narrator. The book serves up some serious suspense, with an amazingly creepy scene (where a female character is infected with - oh wait - better not spoil the plot for you) that still disturbs me when I inadvertently remember it.
I don't recommended this book for anyone with a mental age above 13 who is not titillated by teen sex scenes and references to buggery. No suspense (ghosts are not scary when they have no subtlety), nothing very interesting about Byron, which is what I was hoping for. I couldn't maintain enough to interest to finish it. The reader is okay but I disagree with the first reviewer about his American accent. The "Southern" accent that the father speaks is just awful. His rendering of the son is better, but one has to wonder why the father is Southern and the boy isn't.
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