Book Review: The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers By Henry James

The Turn of the Screw had me turning page after page the entire time. (and I didn't finish The Aspern Papers because I fell behind the reading in school so I will not be reviewing it until I finish it)

The Turn of the Screw is about a governess sent to watch over two children, Miles - who had just been kicked out of school for something we do not know - and Flora. This early ghost story is a mental game. We are told the governess' story through the unnamed narrator leaving it to be unreliable for more than just the apparent unstable mind of the governess.

James' tale deals with a couple things, sexual oppression, the supernatural, social hierarchy etc. The governess is saying she had seen the ghosts of the governess and butler that came before her and while this may seem crazy, the kids in this story don't seem innocent...

I loved the mystery of who was playing who, this story went by a lot faster than Portrait as all horror stories should. James does a great job of playing the reader, making us question whether there really is a ghost or whether the governess is mentally ill. I would say it's pretty up there with The Yellow Wallpaper in mental illness novellas.

I felt bad for the woman throughout this novel and could see the struggles she was facing; in raising the kids, and in the power dynamic that was created amongst the upper-class children being bossed around by someone who was, or is, lower class than they are. The governess seems to be infatuated with Miles, and he feels very uncomfortable in her hands.

This novella is sufficiently creepy and James leave many things unanswered making it perfect for cold fall or winter nights.

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