Review: The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters.

Dr Faraday, a respectable country doctor, is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. There, he finds the Ayres family, who have lived in the crumbling mansion for over two centuries. A man of medicine and logic, he is faced with a story that entwines itself with his own, as something supernatural raises questions even in his most skeptical mind.

Set in a Post-WW2 Britain, this is not a run-of-the-mill horror. In fact, for the most part, you could play it off as a family dying from the neglect of their surroundings, which in turn drives them to desperate ends. But there’s enough there, those who are so resolute that there’s something supernatural afoot, that you can never really be sure.

It works, though, as a reflection of the time. Instead of TVs flickering on and off like your cliché horror movie, you have etchings seeming to appear out of nowhere, and mental anguish being caused seemingly out of nowhere. It begins with a charming dog breaking character, but was that a blip, or something more sinister?

If you’re looking for grim horror, this isn’t it, nor is The Little Stranger for you if you want a fast paced plot building to a shocking crescendo. The reader paddles lightly through the book, full of ambiguity at points to make you take a side (you will probably frequently change your stance throughout), but a lot of threads come together to tell this story so well that you don’t have a strong divide between the interwoven stories. Plus it’s just generally creepy and unsettling at the core.


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