Title: The Orphan Choir
Author: Sophie Hannah
Genre: Horror (Ghost Story)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Louise is tired. Her neighbour, nicked named Mr. Fahrenheit because of his love of Queen, keeps her up pretty much very weekend with his loud music and, when she complains, starts playing longer and louder just to annoy her. Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, he turns from pop music to choral. This is especially hurtful as Louise is struggling with the fact that her seven year old son Joseph is living away from home as a Boarder in order to be part of a famous school choir. She never wanted him to go but was talked into it by her husband and hearing a choir sing every night is more than she can bear. She becomes convinced buying a second home in a rural gated community is the solution and, for a while, she seems to be right. Until she begins to hear the choir again and realises that, no matter how vindictive he is, Mr. Fahrenheit couldn’t have followed her there.
This is where, for me, the story should have got really spooky, if not scary. But it didn’t. It just got silly. I was turning the pages quickly, but only to get to the end. Which is a shame as the story started really well. I thought Sophie Hannah did a really good job of setting up Louise as someone who may be hearing ghosts OR going slightly off the deep-end. She wasn’t the most sympathetic character but then she was slightly crazed so it was ok. The response of her husband though, which was unsympathetic to say the least, and the flatness of the other characters around her (none felt fully formed to me) just meant I was left feeling flat too. The nail in the coffin was the twist at the end, which was more of a leap and felt wrong (sorry I can’t think of a better description).
My rating of 3 out of 5 is for the beginning. The ending means I couldn’t go higher. I think the fact that I’ve enjoyed Sophie Hannah’s other books added to my disappointment. As this was a novella, I wonder if it would have been better as a full length novel with time to really develop the characters and the story. In it’s shortened version it didn’t work for me. Looking at goodreads, which gives it very mixed reviews, it looks like it didn’t work for a lot of other people either. Have you read it? What did you think?