The Turn of the Screw by Henry James


The Turn of the Screw, Henry James, 1898

My favorite quote: “I seemed to float not into clearness, but into a darker obscure, and within a minute there had come to me out of my very pity the appalling alarm of his perhaps being innocent. It was for the instant confounding and bottomless, for if he were innocent, what then on earth was I?”

Notable characters: The governess, our unnamed narrator; Flora and Miles, her strange young charges; Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper; Miss Jessell, Flora’s mysterious new friend; Peter Quint, a former employee

Most memorable scene: When the governess tells Miles he’s no longer controlled by the ghost

Greatest strengths: Its mystery

Standout achievements: This little story handles the unknown with a self-possession and balance rarely seen, keeping its secrets close, without (somehow) eluding the reader

Fun Facts: A common theory is that the ghosts in this story are representations of the governess’s burgeoning awareness of evil. I like that theory

Other media: Lots and lots, my favorite being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix — even though it diverges markedly from the original tale

What it taught me: The importance and power of short, clear sentence structure. I mean, I know it was the way they did things back then, but the endless, meandering sentences throughout this novella make it a frustrating — and sometimes confusing — read. There were times I was shaking my fist and cursing the moldering bones of Mr. Henry James for his refusal to just get to the damn point. But again, that’s just the way they did things then. Of course, they also shared bath water and whatnot, so …  yeah. I’m glad we’ve evolved

How it inspired me: As a lifelong lover of gothic horror, I regard Turn of the Screw as one of my primary influences

Additional thoughts: Women in black, faces at windows, eerie disembodied songs, mystery men appearing on the towers — this one has it all … if you can cope with the writing style

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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