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The Possessed

May 4, 2009
The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

I hate scary movies, especially scary movies that make children creepy or haunting or evil. I covered my eyes through half of the Spanish film “The Orphanage.” Making children creepy is effective, however, and James seemed to know this long before Hollywood did. This novella is the classic thriller of the turn of the century.

A nameless governess goes to care for two children, Miles and Flora, in a predictably creepy estate while their uncle is away. Miles and Flora are creepy themselves. The children seem freakishly perfect, too good to be trusted, and the governess is right to suspect them. She eventually begins to see what they see and all sorts of terrors break loose.

James is not a fast-paced writer and his paragraph-long sentences are often tiresome. But he knows what he’s doing. And if you’re patient enough to wade through his deep prose, you’ll find the experience rewarding–and chilling.

READ IF: You desire a quick but satisfactorily frightening introduction to the psychological thriller genre.

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