Friday, 2 November 2012

The Uninvited Guests

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor—and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.

The cook toils over mock turtle soup and a chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste. But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan. As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.

Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.

The Uninvited Guests was a good read to pass the time, and also to just stare at that beautiful cover, but Sadie Jones' supernatural tale just didn't fulfil all the possible potential it had to be an exceptional piece of ghostly fiction. 

The best part about The Uninvited Guests was that there was heaps of atmosphere and all the required ingredients for a great spooky chiller: the fractured family; the large stately home in disrepair; the party where important impressions must be made; and finally the mysterious accident that causes the majority of the family's staff to leave in order to aid those injured and leaving the Torrington family exposed to sinister forces.  However, Jones' story is far too polite and restrained to be anything more than a gentle moral story.  By the end, all I could think of was this was a shoddy remake of J. B. Priestly's An Inspector Calls, the action now supplanted to the country. 
While I agree that the best spooky tales withold full explantions as to the why and how, I didn't find this approach appropriate for the story.  The Uninvited Guests could have been longer, and the superb enviroment and characters that Jones created could withstand stronger supernatural elements.
  A pleasant read, but I won't be rushing to read it again.

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