Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I have had this book on my TBR for years. Like years. Every Halloween season, I tell myself that I am going to pick this one up. It’s on all the ‘most scary’ book lists and I have heard such great things about Sarah Waters. Not to mention this book features all the creepy things that I love best in the gothic—a family fallen from grace, a crumbling old mansion, a haunted house. I mean all the things that make the gothic what it is can be found in this book or at least promise to be!

Well this year was finally they year for me to read this one. My sister and I picked this book to read for the month of October, every October we pick a couple of creepy books that we have had on our TBR and do a buddy read for the month and this was our pick. At over 450 pages, I decided to also download the Audible version too, I mean Simon Vance narrates and he always does a great job.

My sister has read other books by Waters and absolutely loves them so I had high hoped for this one and I was fully ready to be scared to death and up all night reading this one. So imagine my shock when I was literally bored to tears. This is my first and only DNF of the year and I couldn’t be more shocked. I went into this one fully ready to devour it!


One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his. (summary from Goodreads)


With this one, I really feel like I gave it my best shot. I made it about 30% of the way through and just couldn’t anymore. I tried listening to the book and that was much better than actually reading it. The chapters were long and full of lengthy descriptions that I felt became excessive. The saving grace with the audio version was I could speed up the narrator. The narrator was great but I just had a hard time with the story in general. The whole story just felt daunting and boring. It felt like a whole lot of nothing happened for the first 100 or so pages and I just felt bored. I mean yes I loved the setting and atmosphere but it just moved too slow and the characters felt flat and underdeveloped.

My sister did slog through it and said that at about 40% of the way through it picked up and got really good but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading. It too way too long to get to the story and to bring the creep factor. I made it to the dog attack (for those of you who have read the book) and I just couldn’t after that even if it got better I felt like there was nothing to really hook me into the story early on which was frustrating. The chapters were too long with too many descriptions and just too much blandness for my taste.

While I might not have loved this one and I just had to give up, I don’t know that I would count this one out forever. Right now just might not be the right time. Maybe it’s a book that I need to be in the mood for? I don’t know. I mean I love horror and the gothic and all the creepy delights of a haunted house, but this one just didn’t hook me early and it didn’t compel me enough to keep reading so for now it’s a DNF (did not finish) but maybe someday I will pick it up again and find something to love. Have you read this one? What have you guys thought of this one? Does it get better? Worth another reading attempt? Let me know!

Book Info and Rating

Format: 466 pages, hard cover

First published August 30th 2009

Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 1 star (DNF)

Genre: historical fiction, horror, gothic


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