By: Adele Griffin
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: May 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 2011
This thrilling page-turner is actually a take on the incredible writing of Henry James and his creation, The Turn of the Screw.
In this gripping supernatural story, the audience is introduced to a teenage girl by the name of Jamie. Jamie has an interesting ‘side’ to her personality. She not only has become addicted to pills for pain - but pretty much any pill she can get her hands on in order to calm herself down and make her feel better. Jamie also has a tendency to see all of her dead relatives in her bedroom when she goes to sleep at night. She becomes a bit terrified when she sees the “suicide victims” that her family tree claims, and wants nothing more than to be left alone.
The summer has come and her siblings are off in the world doing the things they love to do. The trip Jamie has to look forward to is a train ride that will take her into a truly posh, wealthy world. Her mother, once upon a time, was a part of this high-class society and dated a man who has now hired Jamie to come and be his daughter’s au pair for the summer. Jamie doesn’t want to go, but her Mom wants to get her out of the house to hopefully help break Jamie’s depression. She also quite likes the fact that her old boyfriend is part of her world again.
So Jamie heads onto the train, and when she steps off she is faced with a completely foreign location that is filled with powerful wealthy people. She is brought to a house called Skylark, which is beyond enormous and stunning, yet is referred to as a summer cottage. Connie meets her at the train and goes over the rules with Jamie. Connie is “in charge” at the house and will be a big part of Jamie’s life. Not only is this woman snotty, but she has a horrific speech impediment that drives Jamie crazy.
When Jamie meets her charge, a beautiful young girl named Isa, and runs into Isa’s rebel brother, Miles, who is supposed to be away at camp, but was kicked out for being bad - Jamie’s summer takes off like a shot. She not only is thrown in with people she doesn’t understand, but a secret is revealed to Jamie about the death of the last au pair from the previous summer.
Ghosts, secrets, visions - everything comes out of the woodwork within these incredible pages, making the reader wonder what exactly is real and what is simply a damaged soul who is crying out for Jamie to hear them in order to finally get the justice they deserve. The author has done an incredible job of taking supernatural pathways and combining them with a real-life murder tale that will keep readers up far into the night.
Quill Says: Great writing, a fantastic plot, and unforgettable characters that would make Henry James extremely proud.