The Haunted House by Charles Dickens

The Huanted HouseNumber one: Do not read this book if you are expecting a tale of ghostly horrors and of things that go bump in the night. That is not what this book is about. Yes, there are “ghosts”, but you’re not going to be treated to a retelling of how a person was brutally murdered or how a main character was haunted by an unseen phantom. These stories are really just about social injustice, terror, or regret. And all of it is blanketed with a healthy dose of skepticism about the business of hauntings. No horror, nothing levitating by itself, nobody mysteriously vanishing. No ghost stories, even though it starts out with a man buying a seemingly haunted house (which is perhaps only the result of a trickster) and scared servants.

Number two: The book is not actually completely written by Charles Dickens. It was originally co-written with five collaborators in the weekly periodical, All the Year Round, in 1859. There were five different authors who each wrote their own tale (each one a different chapter) with Dickens writing the introduction, conclusion, and one of the chapters. The other writers were Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Adelaide Proctor, George Sala and Hesba Stretton. Three stories are really good, at least in my opinion, especially the one about the sailor haunted by a candle after a near-death experience. The others are alright.

What this book is about is a man is told to check out this house that has a reputation for being haunted by a friend of his. He decides to move in along with his sister, a deaf stableman, a dog, two servants, and a young girl that lives with them referred to as the Odd Girl. Soon unexplained noises and other strange occurrences scare the servants away, and every other servant they hired after. It leads to the man and his sister deciding to take care of the house themselves, though they enlist the help of their closest friends and family. Each person was assigned a specific room in the house that they would stay in. It was during Christmas, so they all decided to make a pact not to utter a word about any of the “ghosts” haunting their rooms until the 12th day of Christmas. It was that day over dinner that each person told their tale.

Despite the fact that it was not entirely written by Dickens, it was still a good read. As long as you are not expecting a scary story, that is.

Availability: USMAI
Review Submitted by: Marissa Parlock
Rating: Recommended with Reservations

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