Monday, August 16, 2004

The Ghost Writer by John Harwood scared the crap out of me. Now, I'm the first to admit I'm a total wimp. I couldn't make it through the first 10 minutes of Halloween. Heck, just the DVD menu of Session 9 freaked me out. But books are different and this is the first time since reading The House of Leaves that I can remember being afraid to read the next page. I was finishing it at lunch today and I was so deep into it and dreading the appearance of, like, the freaky-ass crab walk from The Exorcist or something on the next page, that when my phone rang I actually jumped and my heart started racing. This isn't to say that the whole book is that suspenseful; it's exactly the opposite in fact. It takes its time building the creepy mood and sense of horror with seemingly incongruous reactions from the main character's mother, Phyllis, the ghost stories written by his great-grandmother, Viola, and the unsettling sense that something is just not quite right with his "penfriend," Alice. The growing dread that blossoms into full-fledged, thumb-biting fear by the time the last 100 pages rolls around is paced very nicely. Viola's stories that break up the main plot are very reminiscent of Daphne DuMaurier and ultimately hold the key to the answers Gerard seeks about who he is, why his mother left England for Australia, and what other secrets she was hiding about her past. The ending is very abrupt, but it's a testament to the vividness of the writing that I was left wanting to know more, even though most of the book's mysteries had been solved.

Daisers, I think you'd love this one.

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