As I said in my first pre-party post, I'm not much of a horror reader, and the ghost stories I like almost all either feature a ghost who is the author's messenger for some larger point, or they're chiefly characters who have had such an impact on another character's life, or on a given place, that their "ghostly" presence is in effect like a lasting shadow of their living presence. Or, of course, we're really just talking fairy tale -- or satire / parody.
It goes without saying that this definition includes Dickens's A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Signalman; as well as the likes of:
* Aladdin from 1001 Nights (the genie is at least a kind of ghost, right?)
* A.S. Byatt: The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
* Wilkie Collins: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
* Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
* Naguib Mahfouz: Voices from the Other World: Ancient Egyptian Tales
* Toni Morrison: Beloved
* Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters
* Otfried Preußler: The Little Ghost (a wonderful children's story about not fearing "the other")
* Anne Rice: Violin (the last book by her that I read before she turned BBA)
* Theodor Storm: Der Schimmelreiter (The Dykemaster)
* The ghost stories of Edith Wharton (wonderfully atmospheric)
... and of course ...
* Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost
Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" follows a popular convention in classic horror that the story is presented to us with a wrap around narration. At a party people are encouraged to tell each other creepy tales and this one is told to them (and us) by the recipient of correspondence from the governess who is tasked to take care of the children at the centre of this tale. He reads her letters to his audience.
In the novella James uses syntax and grammar to show the growing terror, fear and unreliability of the governess and she becomes either more aware of (or if it's her imagination) more afraid of the ghosts of previous domestic servants and their relationships with the children in her care. It makes us question commonly held assumptions such as beauty = goodness as she learns more about the characters of the exquisite young children.
The kids are manipulative, their legal guardian is lazy and uncaring, there may be ghosts in the old house, the children may have been molested by the two servants when they were alive and employed there, certainly the servants behaved in ways not considered fitting of people of their rank or station. The governess gradually loses her grip on reality and the children seem increasingly devilish.
What actually happens? There are plenty of theories and the story is open to interpretation.
Is it frightening? Not by modern horror standards but it's slightly creepy.
Is it confusing? Hell yes.
as usual, many plots and betrayals being discussed back in Caerwent, while Artos the Bear has been off dealing with Gomer the Fox and the rest of the Picts. but some of the plotters, especially Aurelius Caninus, keep their counter-betrayals and final gambits to themselves. meanwhile, it seems Lady Gwenhwyfar has quietly arrived. She may not like what's been going on...
should finish this tonight. Yardie next, and then either Gone in Seconds, or The Girl on the Train.