“There are two contemporary female authors who feature large upon my literary world whose surnames are similar. There is Minette Walters with an L and Sarah Waters without. Comparisons are pointless; I like both writers but for very different reasons. Sarah seems driven to constantly try new things while avoiding being committed to any one particular genre. This desire to dip into areas you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being ‘up her street’ is both risky but also rewarding – especially for fans of her work.
Five novels into what is already a successful career, with each book different to the last, finds Sarah taking on that old chesnut of the paranormal – in this case a ‘haunted house.’ What makes this novel so remarkable is that Sarah manages to avoid all the clichés associated with this genre. Individuals such as Ramsey Campbell, James Herbert and Steven King have perfected the page turner to perfection but Sarah makes no attempt to adopt that style. Instead she writes a tale that is deeply disturbing but free of any form of gratuitous shock-horror.
Her descriptive abilities are remarkable; her characters real; the situations believable but it is the manner in which she invests such a feeling of history into a story set in 1947 that helps sets this novel apart. That along with the uncompressing story lifts this book into the realms of something rather special. If only all such spooky tales be so well crafted.