With a tarnished reputation, expelled American student, Andrew Taylor is sent to finish his studies at a prestigious and historic boarding school in England.
Steeped in tradition, Harrow School, has all the ingredients to make you feel uneasy: age old-secrets, hidden tunnels, aristocracy, hallways lined with faded photos, and of course rumours of a student ghost.
The plot itself gathers you in, and the writing style is enjoyable, perfectly paced, and wonderfully descriptive, while still leaving splinters in your brain that you have to interpret yourself. Once you’re hooked it doesn’t take long for the goosebumps to appear. Strange occurrences emerge, Andrew begins to suffer vivid and disturbing dreams, and a student dies on campus.
Andrew bears a striking resemblance to a former, famous pupil of Harrow, Lord Byron, and there is no doubt that his enrolment has stirred something supernatural and malevolent within the walls of the school.
What I like about this tale, and what is typical of a clever ghost story is that there is an underlying unease and tension, even during the lighter moments. (There is a backstory of a student romance, adolescent sexuality and a tired alcoholic tutor/mentor.) The history and architecture of the school itself is fascinating and frightful, and that the main characters have their own controversies and secrets that, in a way, haunt them more than any ghost can.
Moments of terror are written in a fast and punctuated pace and you can’t help but rush through them with a skip in your heartbeat and a bite to the lip.
The haunting is genuinely menacing but also enticing; our ghostly friend is seriously pissed off about something; and new student Andrew has definitely captured its attention.
In Short: Secrets, sodomy, scholars and scares.