I hadn’t read a really satisfying ghost story in a long time when I picked up The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. There are plenty of goosebumps here, as well as a glimpse into post-WWII changes in rural English society.
As always, there’s an old, dark house, in this case a crumbling estate called Hundreds Hall. The inhabitants of Hundreds, a Mrs. Ayres, her war-injured son Roderick and her “spinster” daughter Caroline are all that remain of an upper class family that has fallen on hard times. The narrator of the story, Dr. Faraday, a village doctor whose mother had once been a maid at the mansion, is called out to examine a teenage servant who seems to be ill. The young girl, who’s only lived at Hundreds a short time, confides to the doctor that she’s not really sick, but rather she’s frightened of the house. She says there’s something “bad” lurking about the dark hallways and she doesn’t want to stay there. So begins Dr. Faraday’s relationship with the goings-on at Hundreds Hall.
The Little Stranger turned out to be one of those books I don’t find often enough – I wanted to race through it to find out what happened next, but I really didn’t want it to end at all.