What is it about governesses and boarding schools that make for such excellent spooky stories? Perhaps it’s the constant cold and rain that seems to be associated with such locations as well as the creepy old schoolmarms who always show up at the most suspect moments.
Part of what lends to the tension in this particular story is the way the reader is let in on the details slowly. This slow reveal allows the reader to speculate as to why the main character- Susan Cowley- was fired from her governess position. She is sent to the suspiciously named H___ Priory where her interactions with the children are a little bit abnormal. How does everything tie together?
While not outright “scary”, Shearman’s story was unsettling in that there is a natural distrust of every character borne out of my own paranoia vis a vie other horror stories as well as the crafting of characters whose motives are as muddy as the ground after the constant rain. While I enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on, I was also surprised by the ending and pleased at what was still left open for interpretation.
If you enjoy creepy children in a Victorian setting, give this a read. It’s a fun classic spooky story.