This novel is best read late at night, or around a camp fire or when snuggled up safe and warm in bed. It is horror story reminiscent of Rebecca by English author Daphne du Maurier, first published in 1938. Anyone who has read Rebecca (no matter how long ago they read the novel) will be able to recall it’s brooding oppressive threat of harm, of impending doom. Chesterton masters this effect – creating an atmosphere filled with tension, feeding the reader hints, giving clues as to what may possibly happen next, something sinister, something evil. Allowing the reader to connect the dots, to use their imagination, is a very powerful tool that works to create the tension that can be felt in your muscles, in your shoulders, in the tightness in your stomach as you read this book and anticipate the evil deeds that you know will follow.
About page seventy I actually put this book down and left it to see for a few days – this story really affected my imagination. I knew bad things were going to happen, I couldn’t stop them, I could see them coming and I wanted a little break from the tension. Saying this – this is not a gory, blood thirsty riot of microscopic detailed carnage; it is tension created by anticipation, tension created by the written word.
Chesterton does a great job – I have not felt this level of intense involvement in a novel for a very long. Reading this book is like viewing the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho – you don’t exactly know what is behind that screen but you do know it is going to be…bad.
A great gothic style read.