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Book Review #41: The Turn Of The Screw

Henry James

The Turn Of The Screw

Publisher: Collins Classics

Pages: 152

One word review: Quaint!

Did you know?

The novella was initially published in serial format in 1898 as part of a magazine.

The Turn Of The Screw is an old fashioned horror story that is bewildering to read for contemporary readers. The novella which is around 150 pages in length offers the perspective of a governess who is novice but intrepid. The story offers an intriguing prologue and sets the tone for the readers. But does it meet the expectations it raised? Let's see.

Favorite Lines from Book:

Well, if I don't know who she was in love with I know who he was.

The short pitched prologue offers the readers glimpses of what would be the story about. Succinctly written, it sets the mood and beholds the interests and attention immediately. Certainly, after reading the prologue anyone would have had their exceptions high, looking forward to a terrifying horror story and so was I. But it was not the case. Like a typical horror story, the core of the plot is set on a village country house. But the house isn't the perpetrator of evil in this frightening story.

But with this joy of my children what things in the world mattered?

The story is told through the perspective of our main protagonist, an enchanting and dauntless lady, who is endowed with the responsibility of governing two kids; the other protagonists of the story. Rather than petrifying the readers with horror ridden accounts of encounters with ghosts and evil, the story concentrates on the emotions and feelings of our courageous protagonist; how she imbibes the elements of supernatural events surrounding the characters. The perception of events from the protagonist's viewpoint is elaborate and eloquent. I was indeed impressed by the writing style; reading long sentences were both inspiring and admirable.

I recognised the signs, the portents - I recognised the moments, the spot. But they remained unaccompanied and empty, and I continued unmolested;

Moreover, the narration is enigmatic and filled with deeper meaning which is quite arduous for a mediocre reader (which includes me) to assay the true nature. Right till the last chapter I was expecting a histrionic encounter with the supernatural elements, which were significantly exposed at intermittent places hitherto, but was disappointed to experience a baffling climax which has still left me dumbfounded. Alas, the narrative style has indeed struck diamond in me and I am truly impressed by the story and it's deeper meaning it conceals through the pen work.

He turned around only when the waiter had left us. "Well - so we're alone!"

The Turn Of The Screw is a mysterious novella with a suspenseful story that may not offer the feeling of a scary horror movie but surely would be a pleasurable literature read with a charming narrative style.

Verdict: Don't Expect Scary Ghosts In Here!

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