The first book I read of Sarah Waters was Tipping the Velvet. I was fascinated with her style and the rich and complex characters she created in its pages. Its taken me a while to get around to another of her novels, but I have finally come back to her.
Little Stranger is a very different novel than Tipping The Velvet. Its a haunted story about an old family living in a very old manor that is falling into disrepair. Its enchanting in that it is told in the old gothic horror story that slowly draws you into the mystery of the tale and introducing each of the characters through the eyes of Doctor Faraday whose mother was a maid for the manor when he was a child and his earliest memories of it was taking a token from the plasterwork in one of the rooms.
Dr. Faraday begins to spend more and more time with the Ayres family after being called out to minister to their maid Molly. He forms bonds with all the members of the family, particularly the daughter Catherine, a very plain spinster who is full of energy and has the strength and fearlessness of most men (and nearly the build).
The book is told in a style that is almost reminiscent of the true Victorian Gothic horror stories. It rich in the detail of the surroundings and slow in building up the suspense. For much of the book, you are unsure if its trying to be a love story, a drama, or a mystery with the slightest hint towards a ghost story.
I can understand why some people were not drawn to the story, as it is slow. But, that was one of the magical things to me. Its a nice change to get lost in the atmosphere of a well crafted tale that is as much about mood and details as it is about plot. Having a fondness for the Gothic Horror, I was enchanted with the book and loved the curiosity of the slow pace in trying to figure out what the next unfolding would be.
I am thinking I need to read more of Sarah’s works, for this shows the diversity she is capable of. She loves the history of her novels and wraps you in the details so you can be right there to breath in the dank air of the old mansion, the dust flying through the air from a room years past use and a family where times seems to have stood still.
Its a book that you can get lost in and be transported to another time. She weaves it beautifully and if you don’t demand the every page must be action packed, but writing as it used to be, then grab it, find an overstuffed chair to curl up in and some soft music to play in the background while the rain taps the roof and you step through her time portal.