The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger
Genre : Fiction
Published : 4 Jun 2009 - Virago
In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners - mother, son and daughter - are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own.

But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life?

Prepare yourself. From this wonderful writer who continues to astonish us, now comes a chilling ghost story.


Sarah Waters’ masterly novel is a perverse hymn to decay [managed] with consummate, quiet skill. Gripping, confident, unnerving and supremely entertaining.

Hilary Mantel, The Guardian

Waters brings an imaginative vitality to her depiction of post-war malaise and mobility… It’s in conjuring up the zeitgeist… that this novel excels.

The Sunday Times

A mesmerising ghost story [with a] gripping supernatural climax.

The Observer Magazine

Waters is clearly at the top of her game, with few to match her ability to bring the past to life in a fully imagined world.

The Observer Review

Combines the Gothic gloom of Henry James' THE TURN OF THE SCREW, with the generic reference points of Agatha Christie... A ghost story which only ever tip-toes around horror, never fully enacting it… she creates eerie rumblings within everyday reality [and] unleashes a demonic little stranger to play parlour games with our minds.

The Independent

Her descriptive powers are nearly unparalleled… You’ll want to sleep with the light on.

The Times

Memorable horror… a superb depiction. Ambitious and original.

The Times Literary Supplement

The great strength of this taut, involving ghost-story… is the brilliance of its social observation.

The Sunday Times Culture Magazine

I stayed up into the small hours, absorbed.

The Financial Times

An engrossing, hugely enjoyable read with set pieces guaranteed to make anyone with a pulse gibber with fright… A hell of a ride.

The Telegraph

A brilliantly observed story… subtle and poised…. A psychological drama of the calibre of du Maurier’s REBECCA… Waters has yet again written a classic thriller.

Independent on Sunday

The horrors are brilliantly orchestrated… The climax of the book… has all the mesmerising fury of MR James at his best… A beautiful and expert divertissement.

The Spectator

[Sarah Waters] has, quite single-handedly, renewed the whole genre of the spooky Gothic novel. Quite a feat.

Evening Standard

This ghost story… can legitimately be described as a publishing event. [Sarah Waters] is a truly compelling, exciting storyteller, and there will be many, many readers looking forward to this.

The Bookseller

A masterpiece of suspense and social observation.

Scotland on Sunday

Social document; intriguing deceptive yarn; chilling ghost story, romance or thriller – call it what you will, THE LITTLE STRANGER is a marvellous read on so very many levels.

The Irish Times

Without ever making anything explicit, [Waters] skilfully ratchets up the suspense as events at Hundreds grow ever more charged – even downright chilling.

The Daily Mail

Exquisitely told.

The Daily Mirror

Her talent for dipping into the past and re-creating history is unrivalled.

The Daily Express

THE LITTLE STRANGER creeps up on you with the methodical genius of its spooky but also sophisticated narrative... A goose-bump-raising book as well as a fine piece of writing. Waters has triumphed again.

City AM

A brilliant ghost story from a masterful storyteller.

The London Paper

An utterly addictive ghost story… so scary I had to stop reading late at night.


Grippingly readable… Horrible, yet brilliantly described… With a delicate, unnerving skill, Waters… keeps us guessing right to the end.


Waters embraces the genre convincingly, with a measured pace, a light touch, and just enough period detail.

Intelligent Life

The chilling edge in this beautifully written tale takes Waters into new territory, and we like it.

Image Magazine

A beautifully written ghost story-cum-mystery.

Glamour Magazine

Waters turns her storytelling prowess to a skin-pricklingly sinister ghost story.

Harper’s Bazaar

Terrifyingly, spine-chillingly eerie, this ghost story emphatically does not disappoint.

Easy Living Magazine

A classic ghost story, with Waters skilfully building up a sense of creeping dread… a perfectly pitched look at the post-war decline of the English aristocracy.

The Gloss

With her usual masterly powers for evoking atmosphere Sarah Waters treats us to this utterly unnerving ghost story.

Good Housekeeping

An unnerving ghost story… Chilling.

Red Magazine

An intriguing ghost story

Bella Magazine

This chilling ghost story will have you holding your breath as you turn pages to race to the end.

The Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel

A wonderfully evoked atmosphere of post-war anxiety… Sarah Waters is an excellent, evocative writer, and this is an incredibly gripping and readable novel.

The New York Times

Ms Waters’ new novel could win her an even wider audience in the US

The Wall Street Journal

With its subtly orchestrated suspense and spot-on portrayal of English class divisions, Waters’ literary ghost story delights.


A deliciously creepy tale… haunted by the spirits of Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe… A ghost story as intelligent as it is stylish.

The Washington Post

Ms Waters is an excellent, evocative writer, and this is a gripping novel.

International Herald Tribune

Sarah Waters’ masterly, enthralling new novel… knows how to be creepy, how to make the wrongness of what’s transpiring crawl around under your skin. Waters has managed to write a near-perfect Gothic novel while at the same time confidently deploying the form into fresher territory. It’s an astonishing performance, right down to the book’s mournful and devastating final sentence.

A marvellous and truly spooky historical novel.

Boston Globe

Waters’ fifth novel… proves she can tip considerably more than the velvet. More of an unsettling romance than a ghost story, Waters writes with great insight.

Chicago Sun-Times

A stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE.

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

The spookiest book I’ve read in a long time… [Sarah Waters] knows how to create the kind of shivers that make a reader want to turn on all the lights. Waters has mastered the tone of the ghost story... The ending is perfect, leaving just enough to the imagination, and sending echoes back through all that has come before.


Waters’ scrupulously engineered plot builds efficiently to a truly scary highpoint… [A] gripping thriller from one of the most interesting novelists at work today.


Few authors do dread as well as Waters… [A] spooky, satisfying read.

Library Journal

Darkly atmospheric… An eerie ghost story mixed with piercing class commentary, Waters’ latest is downright haunting.


Prepare for serious chills on the beach with Sarah Waters' smart ghost story. A classic gothic page-turner.

USA Today

The pleasures of THE LITTLE STRANGER lie with the author’s uncanny ability to paint her characters and their world and to seduce the reader into following along with her… I was thrilled to spend time there, under the guidance of this supremely gifted storyteller.


An engrossing tale.

Portland Oregonian

[Waters has] a Hitchcockian gift for making mundane household occurrences turn into intimations of evil… If you want a ghost story that creeps up your spine, THE LITTLE STRANGER delivers.

Seattle Times

We loved every single, suspense-filled moment.


Impossible to put down, the psychological tension in this richly written ghost story steadily mounts to a horrifying conclusion. A great read.

The Sacramento Bee

Waters does a fabulous job… THE LITTLE STRANGER keeps the reader thinking about the mystery and looking for clues.

Portland Daily Vanguard

The hallmarks of her fiction are there: painterly, fluid prose; an eyewitness’ attention to detail; a uniquely sensual, oft times startlingly erotic approach to gender and relationships.

Gay & Lesbian News

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