A sinister Gothic tale in the tradition of The Woman in Black and The Fall of the House of Usher
1891. In a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle and banned from reading. Left to her own devices she devours books in secret and talks to herself - and narrates this, her story - in a unique language of her own invention. By night, she sleepwalks the corridors like one of the old house's many ghosts and is troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother Giles. Sometimes Florence doesn't sleepwalk at all, but simply pretends to so she can roam at will and search the house for clues to her own baffling past.
After the sudden violent death of the children's first governess, a second teacher, Miss Taylor, arrives, and immediately strange phenomena begin to occur. Florence becomes convinced that the new governess is a vengeful and malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. Against this powerful supernatural enemy, and without any adult to whom she can turn for help, Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to both protect her little brother and preserve her private world.
Inspired by and in the tradition of Henry James' s The Turn of the Screw, Florence & Giles is a gripping gothic page-turner told in a startlingly different and wonderfully captivating narrative voice.
‘Real atmosphere is increasingly rare in novels and here it is in spades…A darkly glamorous tour de force.’
Wendy Holden, DAILY MAIL
'Harding rings enough ingenious changes on James's study of perversity to produce his own full-blown Gothic horror tale. The climax of their struggle… is genuinely exciting and shocking.' THE INDEPENDENT
‘Florence and Giles is an elegant literary exercise worked out with the strictness of a fugue: imagine Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw reworked by Edgar Allan Poe…Nothing prepares you for the chillingly ruthless but inevitable finale.’ THE TIMES
'A tight gothic thriller… The climax becomes unbearably tense. Florence feels the horror of her situation "cheese-grating" her soul, which is just how Harding leaves the reader feeling at the end of this creepily suggestive story.' FINANACIAL TIMES
‘Harding’s creepy, ingenious tale slyly wrongfoots the reader, and its deliciously sinister conclusion is the stuff of troubled nights.’ THE LADY
‘Brilliantly creepy’ DAILY MIRROR
‘An intriguing read’ GRAZIA
‘A good, clever, modern take on old-style American gothic; a creepy haunted house tale in which the living are just as eerie as any real or imagined ghouls.’ NEW ZEALAND HERALD
‘a scarily good story, in an arrestingly unusual narrative voice.’ THE OXFORD TIMES
About the author
John Harding was born near Ely. He is the author of the bestselling What We Did On Our Holiday, made into an ITV drama starring Shane Ritchie and Roger Lloyd Pack. He is a book reviewer for the Daily Mail and lives in London.