This House is Haunted by John Boyne – A Discussion!

20130807_165821This House is Haunted captivated me from the very first sentence:

‘I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.’

Who wouldn’t want to read on after that?

John Boyne tells his ghost story superbly.  He introduces the main character, Eliza Caine with enough background information to interest the reader but not bore them with unnecessary details.  Eliza’s father passes away and she is left alone in the world.  She leaves her position as a school teacher to begin afresh as a governess at Gaudlin Hall.

As soon as she reaches the platform near death experiences begin to follow her.  This is when the ghostly part of the story begins.  I do not want to spoil the plot for any future readers but I will say that there were some parts of the story that gave me chills, the reason behind the haunting is plausible and the ending was satisfyingly eerie.

I really enjoyed reading the book and have to say that it is one of the better ghost stories that have been released recently.

QUOTES:

‘the toes dancing beneath the sheets, a sensation of the most delightful pleasure, until a pair of hands grabbed both my ankles tightly…’

‘And I would never allow it to harm the children, although that did not seem to be its intention anyway.’

‘It did my soul some good to wander freely.’

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Ghost Stories – That First Sentence

I am in the process of editing my ghost novel and was in need of some inspiration.  That very first line is particularly important as it sets the scene and mood of the entire story.

Here are some of my favourites;

* This House is Haunted by John Boyne (Book I am currently reading) – ‘I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.’

(Perhaps the most interesting start I have read in a while)

* Hell House by Richard Matheson‘It had been raining since five o’clock that morning.’

* The Ghost Writer by John Harwood ‘I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother’s bedroom.’

* The Séance by John Harwood – ‘If my sister Alma had lived, I should never have begun the séances.’

* The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ‘No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.’

* The Turning by Francine Prose – ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy.’

* Susan Hill

– The Man in the Picture: ‘The story was told to me by my old tutor, Theo Parmitter, as we sat beside the fire in his college rooms one bitterly cold January night.’

– Dolly: ‘An autumn night and the fens stretch for miles, open and still.’

The Small Hand: ‘It was a little before nine o’clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way.’

The Woman in Black: ‘It was nine thirty on Christmas Eve.’

* Charles Dickens

– A Christmas Carol: ‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain: ‘Everybody said so.’

English: Frontispiece of "The Haunted Man...

English: Frontispiece of “The Haunted Man” by Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 of my Favourite Books

Cover of "The Lovely Bones"

Cover of The Lovely Bones

I love so many different books so a top 10 was difficult to compile.  These are books that I have read over and over again and stay with me long after they are closed.  This top 10 does not include horror or children’s fiction.

Here they are in no particular order;

1) The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold

2) Little WomenLouisa May Alcott

3) AtonementIan McEwan

4) The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak

5) The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

6) Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

7) I’m the King of the CastleSusan Hill

8) The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

9) The HobbitJ.R.R. Tolkien

10) The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

First Lines

photoMaybe I have too much time on my hands but I decided to go through my library and find some first lines that captured my attention in an attempt to improve my own writing skills.

Here they are;

* ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ – Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

* ‘I am an invisible man.’ – Ralph Ellison Invisible Man

* ‘When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.’ – Gillian Flynn Gone Girl

* ‘There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb. and he almost deserved it.’ –  C.S. Lewis The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

* ‘This is a story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve’ – Wilkie Collins The Woman in White

* ‘In the days following the holocaust, which came to be known as the Great White, there was death and madness.’ – Isobelle Carmody Obernewtyn

* ‘It was a little before nine o’clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way.’  – Susan Hill The Small Hand

* ‘My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie’ – Alice Sebold The Lovely Bones

* ‘One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: – it was the black kitten’s fault entirely’ – Lewis Carroll Through the Looking Glass

* ‘Jack Torrence thought: Officious little prick.’ – Stephen King The Shining

* ‘When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the cinema, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home’ – S.E. Hinton The Outsiders

* ‘I don’t really know what I am doing here.’ – John Marsden So much to tell you

* ‘Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice: vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonour her.’ – Mario Puzo The Godfather

* ‘Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.’ – Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

* ‘I haven’t laid eyes on the island in several years.’ – Dennis Lehane Shutter Island