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The Turn of The Screw


Henry James

The Turn of The Screw
average rating is 2 out of 5

Supernatural, Gothic, Psychological, Classics

R. Alex Jenkins

I hate to be flippant at rating a classic like The Turn of The Screw at only two stars, but what can you do when a book is this boring and practically nothing happens?

Henry James’ writing style is as dull as ditchwater and struggles to sustain any discernible or interesting plot. It’s too convoluted, intellectual and formal for its own good, profligate in its use of resources, chucking as many words as possible on the page to express sentiments like 'do-they' 'don’t-they' in overly long paragraphs:

It’s too much to think about. Does the little girl see the ghost, does she know I also see the ghost, do we talk about it or continue pretending that we don’t?

It's barely creepy, cosmic or scary at all. Sherlock Holmes is more terrifying than this and far more exciting. Nothing happens. Ghosts occasionally appear at windows, on staircases or across from lakes. I read Dracula and Frankenstein expecting them both to be dour, only to discover they are both great books! The Turn of the Screw is not!

The real reason for reading this book? As a recommended introduction to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, which I am reading now. It has succeeded in making Shirley Jackson seem more like Stephen King than Henry James, which is a good thing.

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