Haunted Houses: Two Novels By Charlotte Riddell
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From the once-popular yet unfairly neglected Victorian writer Charlotte Riddell comes a pair of novels which cleverly upholster the familiar furniture of the haunted house story. In An Uninhabited House, the hauntings are seen through the perspective of the solicitors who hold the deed of the property. Here we find a shrewd comedic skewering of this host of scriveners and clerks, and a realist approach to the consequences of a haunted house how does one let such a property? Slowly the safer world of commerce and law gives way as the encounter with the supernatural entity becomes more and more unavoidable In Fairy Water, Riddell again subverts the expectations of the reader, suggesting a complex moral character for her haunting spirit. Her writing style is succinct and witty, rendering the story a spirited and approachable read despite its age.
Charlotte Riddell (1832-1906) was a popular and influential writer of novels and short stories in the Victorian period. Andrew Smith is Professor of Nineteenth-Century English Literature at the University of Sheffield. His 20 published books include Gothic Death 1740-1914: A Literary History, The Ghost Story 1840-1920: A Cultural History, Gothic Literature, Victorian Demons, and Gothic Radicalism. He edited Lost in a Pyramid & Other Classic Mummy Stories for the British Library in 2016. He is a past president of the International Gothic Association.