Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Visitor's Book and other ghost stories - Sophie Hannah

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A spooky read just as the jacket promises.

The title suggests a fairly ordinary set of stories with a touch of "spookiness" to it with the inclusion of "ghost stories".

Sophie Hannah is known for her  crime thrillers. I haven't read any and this was my first. It was a delighful introduction to the writer and her style.

I was looking for something racy and fast paced and this fit the bill well.


There are about 3 or 4 novellas in it. The settings are perfectly ordinary, a woman visiting her boyfriend's house, a woman waiting at the school playground at pick up time, a birthday party at a house.

The locations are very ordinary and the beginning is quite ordinary too. What makes a difference is the way the story progresses and takes it to a whole new level.

What works:
  • It is a slim volume, easily finished in a sitting or so. 
  • Gripping. Within sentences Hannah, has you feverishly turning the pages to find out where is this leading.
  • Very plot driven and thrilling.
  • The settings are very believable and ordinary yet they pave way for something unexpected.
What doesn't:
  • These stoeis are snippets so it feels like fast food really. Hunger is satisfied but the craving is still there. I reckon I will be turning to her novels for a full course meal.
  • They race through the plot taking it to a conclusion. Sometimes it leaves you a bit cold. 
  • The stories though believable, do leave you with a bit of a question mark  in the end.

Having said that, this is what is expected of a short story isn't it? Building up the atmosphere from a familial setting to the high point where the story ends. These stories read like classic short stories that follow the textbook pattern. Once I got to the end, I read back to find out how she did it and upon analysis, ended up enjoying them even more.

What more can a reader ask for?

Commercially, the timing couldn't have been better. The book is the ideal size for a stocking filler.

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