The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I've had a busy summer keeping up with a reading schedule of mostly new releases. I have a few weeks before my next ARC hits the shelves, so I've decided to take the next couple of weeks to catch up on some of the books that have been languishing on my shelf. To kick things off, I turned to a book that has been on my shelf for nearly a decade. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters first caught my eye when it appeared in the top spot on Stephen King's best books of the year list in 2009. I was just starting my undergraduate degree and was turning to fiction as an escape from my other course reading. I quickly bought a copy of the novel, and it has sat on my bookshelves ever since. Nine years and hundreds of books later, I finally decided to give it a read.

"We see what punishing business it is, simply being alive."

Following the end of WWII, the once sprawling estate of Hundreds Hall has turned into a disheveled remnant of a time that is soon to be forgotten. Most of the rooms sit vacant, in fact, the entire estate is empty save for an elderly mother and her two adult children. Each child does their part to keep the home running. The daughter tends to the home as best as she can while keeping her mother occupied. The son, injured from the war, does his part to keep the farm afloat. The mother spends her days thinking back on the way things used to be.

Things seem to be looking up for the family when they are finally able to gain the aide of the young housemaid. Sure, it is not the large staff that used to keep Hundreds Hall buzzing with activity and prestige, but any help is welcome. When the young girl falls ill, the family decides to ring Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who worked his way to become a successful country doctor. Faraday quickly surmises that the girl's illness is not a physical ailment but rather simple homesickness. Faraday prescribes a day off and is on his way. But something keeps drawing him back to Hundreds Hall. The more time he spends there, the more sinister it seems.

I went into this one expecting a novel filled with shock and horror. What I got was a more straight-forward work of historical fiction with slight tinges of understated suspense. That's not to say that The Little Stranger isn't scary. Rather than the pure horror of the traditional sense, Waters writes a nuanced character study that brims with a dark undertone that is far more unsettling. After making it through the rather laborious opening portion of the book, I found myself completely enthralled with the characters who inhabit it. The decaying home of Hundreds Hall becomes a physical representation of the characters as they erode into the hysteria of paranoia and unrest. I don't know that The Little Stranger will end up making my own year-end list of best books, but I do know that it provided a chilling read and different pace from my usual summer reading.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2018, 31)

This entry was posted on Friday, August 10, 2018 and is filed under ,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

4 Responses to “The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters”

  1. Character studies can often be far more unsettling than pure horror because I can see their stories happening in real life. For the same reason though, this sounds like an interesting read.

    1. You're very right! The terror was made more real by the fact that most of it was internalized through the characters.

  2. Sometimes I really enjoy this subtle unsettling type of story. I must admit you have me curious. Good for you for clearing off a book from your TBR pile!

    1. I actually think it would be really good to listen to it. Onto another book on my TBR shelf!


Powered by Blogger.