Before starting with this review I would like to ask you something: If you have read the book, contact me so we can talk about it!
On this occasion I will review the novel by Henry James The Turn of the Screw. It is possible that this is the most difficult book I’ve reviewed since I started the blog three years ago, later you will understand why.
This is a classic horror story, a ghost novel. It tells the experiences of a young governess, who is in charge of two lovely children, and who sees the condemned spirits of her predecessors. The protagonist goes out of her way to help her pupils and rescue them from their turbulent past.
About the edition
The book that I have is an edition that Lunwerg made with the illustrator Ana Juan (I already told you about it in the Stephen King review).
The edition is a beautiful work of art. It comes bound in hard cover with a full colour illustration. Includes cloth bookmark, very good quality paper and endless dark and symbolic illustrations that create a parallel story and help the text comprehension.
I did not know about this book until it was recommended to me and now, after having read it, I think it is a must-read for lovers of the genre.
It is true that, being a work of 1898, the language is not the same as that of now. At the beginning it is difficult to read, not because of the lexicon used, but because of the length and complexity of the phrases used, which can occupy ten lines and contain commas, semicolons, hyphens, etc. However, as much as it costs at the beginning, as the story progresses, you get used to it.
What I liked most about the story is its ambiguity and its open ending. It keeps you in suspense from the beginning to the end, it makes you question repeatedly what is really happening and in the end it gives you freedom to interpret it as you want.
My interpretation of history
If you haven’t read this novel and would like to do so don’t keep reading, beware of the spoilers ahead.
I finished this story last Tuesday, but I needed some time to digest it and write the review. Besides, I’ve been looking for other opinions on blogs and it’s hard to get something clear.
I will tell you what I think about it, but my interpretation is greatly influenced by the following illustrations by Ana Juan. It is possible that without her work I would have interpreted everything in a different way.
Throughout story we are presented with the following questions:
- Does the governess really see the spirits of her predecessors? What if she is insane?
- Do the children also see spirits? Both of them or just one?
- Do those spirits really exist? If they are real, are they good or evil?
In my eminently fantasizing nature, I have decided to think that the spirits were real and that the protagonist was not crazy. These despicable beings exerted their control over the children in life and pretended to continue to do so in death, hence the significant illustrations of the children as little mice and the fierce cats that haunt them.
With regard to children, I think that little Flora could see them; but Miles did not, although he was influenced by them. The children helped each other to escape and be alone with their deceased friends, but Miles ends up being afraid and asks for help, both for himself and his sister.
As I said, this is what I have decided to believe, but it is only a conjecture that I am not too sure about.
What’s your interpretation?