Book Review: "An English Ghost Story" by Kim Newman
- by Señor Editor, 24 October 2014
Kim Newman is perhaps best known for his Anno Dracula series, but his latest novel is a standalone book, very much different from his other works. “An English Ghost Story”, published by Titan Books, is a very peculiar spin on the classic haunted house story.
No, the spirits seem to be their friends. They help the Naremores forget about all their pre-Hollow problems, and live a magical, beautiful life, almost exactly like in the pages of the late Miss Teazle’s books. They get presents from the ghosts, see all kinds of charming things and are happier than ever. The end.
Okay, that’s not the end at all. When Jordan starts having problems with her (now long-distance) relationship with her boyfriend, the tensions among the family slowly start coming back. At the same time, the Hollow suddenly starts having a completely different atmosphere. The spirits that were previously so wonderful to be around, suddenly decide to quit their Casper the Friendly Ghost routine and start doing things ghosts do best: creeping everybody the hell out. The Hollow itself also starts influencing the Naremores in new ways, inducing paranoia and fears in each family member and setting each of them against the rest…
That’s as much of the story as I can tell you without spoiling anything, but there’s a lot more than that happening in the book.
Newman really puts his great imagination to good use in this book, coming up with wonderfully creepy horrors and scares that are much more imaginative than the standard ghost fare. The ghosts in this world are also much different than what we’re used to. There are many of them, and we are never certain if these are dead people who never left the Hollow, or some sort of non-human spirits manifesting themselves. There’s a logic to it all, though, and once you finish the book, all of it becomes clear.
One thing I also enjoyed was how Newman switches up the narrative by introducing chapters here that are supposed to be excerpts from the books written about the Hollow, from times before the Naremores moved in. It really expands the world of the book and adds some very enjoyable layers to the “English Ghost Story”.
I admit that it took the book some time before things started getting eerie and spooky, but the slow buildup really pays off later on.
This is an unusual book as far as ghost stories go, and probably one of the more original takes on the topic. It’s not strictly a horror book, but it certainly is a good October read, and fans of Newman’s work will be loving it. Give this novel a go!
Have you read “An English Ghost Story” yet? What are your thoughts on it? Leave us a comment below!