Why do I love to embrace a ghost story in the summer? Is it that I find the goose bumps that they raise to be particularly cooling?
Who knows? But I have had the good fortune to read two this summer that are especially good.
Little Stranger by Sarah Waters tells the story of a crumbling ruin of a house in England after the Second World War. When Dr. Faraday comes to treat one of its residents he becomes totally enmeshed in the decline and fall the Ayres family. Is this decline caused by weakening resources and failing health? Or is there something much more sinister and supernatural afoot? Waters tells a wonderful story that will have you remind of some of the great gothic ghost stories of all time. In fact this one is on the Booker Prize long list! Yes, it is that good!
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger is not due out until next month but I was lucky enough to get an advance copy. This ghost story is also based in England but in the present day. When Aunt Elspeth dies of cancer, she leaves her London flat and entire estate to her two twin nieces who she has never met, Julia and Valentina. Of course there are strings attached. They must live in it for a year and their mother, her twin sister, must never come to visit. The flat is next door to the historic Highgate Cemetery, the final resting place of such luminaries as Christina Rossetti, Karl Marx, and George Eliot. But the creepiness is not necessarily the doings of their quiet neighbors. The girls have a sense that they are not alone in the apartment. Could Aunt Elspeth be watching over them? The ending is something that may not come as a huge surprise, but the sinister intent is so stunning it will leave you breathless. I highly recommend this one.