Let me just get this out the way right now: Florence and Giles by John Harding, is the single best book you will ever download for 99p (from Kindle Store.) Do yourself a favour and download it now, before they realise some intern made a pricing mistake or something and sell it for more...
Ok, so to openly recommend a book in the first paragraph is something slightly unheard of for me, but some books simply warrant a bit of a song and dance when they're such great value for money ;)
The fact is, Florence and Giles promises to be something it doesn't fail to deliver on, and that is something I have been struggling to find in a book lately (...see Starcrossed, for example...)
Take Turn of the Screw and mix it up with a bit of Poe (As backed up by the Times reviewer on the front cover, I've just noticed, go me!), and you may see why I loved this book. There's a governess, there's creepiness, there's ghosts, house keepers, institutionalised kids and chronic illnesses. It's every little bit the modern gothic horror with every decent throwback and reference to the classics.
So, what is the the book actually about? Florence and Giles are the lonely orphans of Blithe House,
looked after by the housemaids. After the sudden death of their first
governess, Florence is haunted by dreams of a woman plotting to steal
her brother Giles, and begins a solitary investigation into their new
governess, Miss Taylor, who she believes may be the woman her dreams warn her of.
I'm not exaggerating on the creepiness. Partly through fault of my own (as I read this book at nights before I went to sleep) I found myself with an unwillingness to look into a mirror, a fear of where I may wake up in the mornings and an unsettling image of a governess hovering upon a lake. The book packs atmosphere into every inch of it's pages and really sucks you in. I could probably have read it in one sitting if I hadn't had an unavoidable need to sleep...
However, there is one small little niggle I had with the book. It is narrated by Florence who, for various reasons the book explains, has a language of her own. As a result I found some phrases to be forced and unnatural to the flow of reading. At the beginning, Harding really pushes the language of Florence on every page and it got a little bit tiring, but he soon relaxes and the writing finds it's stride, pulling you into is dark belly of mystery and mental unhingement.
All in all, I would definately recommend this book and will certainly seek out other titles by the author for the future.
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Florence and Giles - The review
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.