REVIEW: “The Ghost of Little Jacques” by Ann M. Hoyt

Review of Ann M. Hoyt, “The Ghost of Little Jacques”, in Minor Hauntings: Chilling Tales of Spectral Youth, edited by Jen Baker (British Library, 2021): 55-84 — Order here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

There was very little in this story to arouse sympathy in the reader. Christine is a serving woman for a loveless family where “the death of a child was no very solemn or very uncommon thing” (p. 58), where death was “the very best thing that could have happened” (p. 59) to a child. Though she likes to think of herself a philosopher, her actions throughout the book are pragmatic, aimed at preserving herself at the expense of the truth. There are two theories as to how little Jacques came to die (for if his death were not in some way unnatural there would have been no reason for him to return in ghostly form) and both of them are distasteful.

Baker in her introduction to the story quotes a contemporaneous review of it, which was not especially favorable, and attempts to provide a different account of it. I, alas, come down on the side of the anonymous New York Times reviewer: This is a story the reader may very well question why they read it.

(First published in Atlantic Monthly, 1863).