A friend recommended reading Henry Jame’s novella, The Turn of the Screw. It’s a psychological horror, set in Victorian times in England in Essex, specifically. Throw in an old country estate named Bly–isolated and with a large pond–a couple of potential ghosts, a country church and I’m sold. Get me a cup of tea, some caramel popcorn and away we go. Nothing better than a cozy horror snuggled up in blankets.
Expecting something like Jane Eyre, I sat and read the novella (approximately 43,000 words) over a weekend, some in the car, some in restaurants and the rest at home. It’s a quick read–I particularly loved the short, but thick chapters, that gave just enough momentum to keep the reader going. The imagery, particularly the ghost sightings I adored. James has a way with describing just enough and letting your mind fill in the rest, particularly with domestic scenes so close to our experiences.
I got to the end, eager for answers, several theories at my side I developed. I met Mr. James there, holding his white handkerchief in a tease surrender, standing next to his character’s corpse. My theories fell to the wayside. I argued, I harangued, I politely condoled. But I would get no answers, it seemed. It was up to me and all the other readers since the 1800’s.