The Little Stranger appeared on my Amazon.com recommended reading list over and over. It received some recognition too–New York Times “Notable Book of 2009” and it was shortlisted for “The Man Booker Prize.” And Stephen King had commented, “The best book I read this year,” which actually impressed me the most. While Stephen King’s books don’t scare me, and I can’t remember the last time any book gave me the heebie-jeebies, I thought The Little Stranger was legitimately spooky.
The book centers around Dr. Faraday, who is establishing his practice in Warwickshire, England after WWII, and the Ayres family, who live in the well-known Hundreds Hall estate. The Ayres family are somewhat reclusive and have lost much of their wealth. Mrs. Ayres is an elderly widow and her son and daughter are struggling to keep the estate in order and the family’s reputation in tact. The book begins with Dr. Faraday visiting Hundreds Hall to care for a sick maid, and this opens the door to the relationship that grows between Faraday and the Ayres family. He befriends them and becomes a spectator to the “troubling events” that begin to occur.
I don’t want to give too much away….but the Ayres family doesn’t seem to be alone in their home and when at first it seems that the son, Roderick, is the only one affected by the “troubling events,” you actually wonder if there really is something going on or if Roderick is to blame. But clearly with a few hundred pages to go at that point, there’s more to the story.
Definitely a great read. I liked the characters (even though you start to feel that Dr. Faraday is a little daft by the end of the book). The writing is really smart and fairly believable, considering it’s a ghost story. And considering it was 463 pages, it reads pretty quickly.