cover image An English Ghost Story

An English Ghost Story

Kim Newman. Titan (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $14.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-78116-559-1

The idiosyncratic Naremores rejoice at fleeing London for the Hollow, a rural refuge in modern-day Somerset, in this well crafted if predictable haunted house tale. Parents Steven and Kirsty, adolescent daughter Jordan, and preteen son Tim relish their newfound family harmony, but odd events pile up and they start to sense the presence of apparently friendly otherworldly elements. Soon the outsiders are exploiting the family’s weaknesses, turning relationships vindictive and potentially fatal. The Naremores’ plight is exacerbated by the association of the Hollow with its former owner, deceased writer Louise Teazle, whose ghostly tales and fan club visits contribute to the increasingly tense atmosphere. Newman (Anno Dracula) achieves an interesting offbeat tone as ghosts casually appear, but their seeming amiability only fuels family hostility. Newman’s innovative suggestion is that it is we, not our ghosts, who are responsible for our problems, but the obviousness of the plot and a transparent moralistic message obscure and diminish the underlying concept. (Oct.)