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The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James The plot of this classic Gothic book is well-known, so I will hit only the high points. A governess is hired by an English gentleman to take care of his orphaned nephew and niece. The only big condition for her work: she will never ever bother the guy with the problems with the kids. I could never figure out whether it was his eccentricity, or he just did not care about the kids much.

The governess' first impression of the place was very favorable and the kids were adorable. Add to this good salary and you have practically a dream job. Some short time later it turned out that something is rotten in the state of Denmark - to use a quote from another literature classic. An idealistic tale turns out to be horror and adorable kids become monsters (and not little monsters either).

Creepy Kids

I would like to start the discussion of the book with writing style. Some people call the style used here beautiful. Some people call it influential. Some people call it classic. I call it painful. It is overly verbose with huge paragraphs at times consisting of a single sentence. The main reason I was able to finish the book was its length: it is short. I am sure it is the case for its many readers.

By the middle of the book I was ready to go on a killing spree if I read one more time about how adorable the kids were: it was repeated countless times on each page. I thought about using this technique in my review, but unlike the author I took pity of my readers.

If you take away the verbosity the remaining part is so short it can qualify for a status of a short story. What saves it is the main heroine. For all her verbosity, romanticism, and naiveté she is a strong woman of her time. Do not believe me? Sure, she did not kill dozens of people standing between her and her goal - something modern "strong" women excel at - and she never tried lifting heavy weighs. What she does: she is not afraid to go along at night to the place haunted by ghosts armed only with a candle. She keeps fighting for the kids even when everything turns against her.

The final rating is 2.5 stars. I do not regret reading the book, but I will not do it again for anything less than 6-digit amount of money.