Friday, March 29, 2019

Governess of the Grotesque

Fresh from the convent, Beryl Seaton accepts a position as governess for the Brooks family. When she arrives at the family's remote house, however, she discovers that a terrible secret is waiting for her in the nursery. Something so horrific, it chills Beryl to her core. Yet her desire to help is so strong, and so genuine, that Beryl nevertheless struggles to look after their son.

What happened to Stephen, to leave him the way he is? What happened to the previous governess at Grangehurst? And what causes the sobbing sound that seems to drift through an empty room? As Beryl's own account of the horror continues, she asks the reader to heed her warning: do not read the twenty-eighth chapter of her story.

By the time she uncovers the awful truth about the family, and about little Stephen, it might be too late for Beryl to ever leave.

STEPHEN by Amy Cross almost made me throw up. Some of the descriptions are so graphic, I retched a few times. The story is told as flashbacks being written down by Beryl. I think she had to be mentally unstable from the very beginning, to stay as long as she did at Grangehurst. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the nuns wanted Beryl out of the convent because they felt she might harm them. She didn't come across as a naive young girl, she seemed to be quite psychotic.

While the story held my interest and the descriptions are extremely detailed, I have a few issues with this novel. First of all, there seems to be a lot of droning on from Beryl, which could have been cut down, without ruining the story. Second, I enjoy horror which frightens me. This didn't frighten me, I simply felt repulsed. If you take away the grotesque scenes, there isn't much else to the storyline.

Last but not least, the author's writing style is drastically different from any of her previous work. I understand short stories would not be written the same way a novella or novel would be created, but Cross appears to put more effort into her smaller works. I do not recommend this one.

As always,

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