The Ghost Writer
By John Harwood
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151010745, 384pp.)
Publication Date: July 2004
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A tantalizing tale of suspense and family secrets that weaves Victorian ghost stories into the present – where they start to come true
Timid, solitary librarian Gerard Freeman lives for just two things: his elusive pen pal Alice and a story he found hidden in his mother’s drawer years ago. Written by his great-grandmother Viola, it hints at his mother's role in a sinister crime. And as he discovers more of Viola’s chilling tales, he realizes that they might hold the key to finding Alice and unveiling his family's mystery – or will they bring him the untimely death they seem to foretell?
Harwood’s astonishing, assured debut shows us just how dangerous family skeletons – and stories -- can be.
John Harwood is the author of two books of Victorian Gothic suspense, The Ghost Writer and The Seance. He lives in Hobart, Australia.
"Harwood''s debut is a haunting literary gothic, a slow-building suspense thriller. Lyrical, labrynthine. An atmospheric paranormal thriller with many surprises."
"''''The Ghost Writer," is a first-class creeper, a literary ghost story in the Victorian tradition."
"A compelling ghost story and an auspicious debut."
"Intricate and engrossing. Harwood raises the ghost of the Victorian ghost story. One ghoulishly absorbing read. B+." <br>
"Compulsively readable. A wonderful debut, evoking a century''s worth of family history, by a multitalented and artistically ambidextrous newcomer."
"Spooky and gripping, a chilling tale sure to make your spine shiver on even the hottest summer day."
"A creepy literary mystery. A terrific debut, very accomplished and assured."
"The Ghost Writer" is a grand Victorian tale in which Gerard becomes increasingly certain something wicked his way comes.
"Combines suspense that keeps readers up with a literary voice that allows them to respect themselves in the morning."
"Sly nods to spooky literary spinsters - James'' Miss Jessel, Dickens''s Miss Havisham - set the tone for this confident debut."
"By the last page, all loose ends have been tied up, but the uncanny still clings to everything."
"You can''t help being dazzled by Harwood''s inventiveness, especially his sure-footed mastery of prose style. [An] entertainingly accomplished first novel."
"A fabulous, very spooky ghost story in the classic mode that will remind some people of A.S. Byatt''s "Possession."<br>
"As a mystery, The Ghost Writer is irresistible, pushing all the genre''s gothic buttons and casting a convincingly Dickensian pall."
"An elegant homage to the Victorian ghost story tradition. Like Dickens''s The Pickwick Papers, Harwood makes your flesh creep."
"An exceptionally inventive first novel."
"Harwood has written a smart, stylish and mesmerizing book."