The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Genre: gothic novel and mystery.  ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.5. ⭐️Stars from me: 5.

General information about The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger is a story about a noble English family living through the days of their financial decline in their quickly dilapidating mansion. A local doctor befriends them during a professional visit to the family’s only servant. The doctor watches how the family is trying to stay true to themselves while their house is falling apart, and some strange and scary things start happening in it.

There’s now a movie adaptation of the book but it looks like the movie isn’t even remotely as deep and multilayered as the book is (and the doctor looks about 15 years younger than he should be). Here’s the trailer if you are interested.

I listened to the audio version of The Little Stranger, and I’m sure that I liked the book so much, largely thanks to the Simon Vance who was reading the story. His narration is perfect. He created different intonations and melodies for each character. They are very distinctive but not overplayed. In fact, he sounds so natural, I sometimes forgot he was not telling his life story but reading a work of fiction aloud.

What I liked about the book

The atmosphere

The atmosphere is palpable. You can breathe in the cold humid air, see the fields and admire the old mansion. When the scary things start happening, they frighten you not because of what they are, but because of how real they feel.

The characters

The characters are very well developed and deep. It’s hard to believe they are not real people. I was almost brought to tears when something horrible happened to one of them because I had grown so fond of this character.

The most awesome thing about The Little Stranger

The most awesome thing about the book is its story. The events can be interpreted in several different ways. I’m sure each reader will perceive the book differently. To some it will be a creepy gothic story, to others it will be purely psychological. To someone else it will be something more. The author never spells things out for you. It doesn’t mean that there are open endings or gaps left by a lazy writer for a reader to fill in on their own. You have to be really vigilant and careful to see what’s really going on. That’s why I think this book is genius. The Little Stranger will definitely make it to the best books I’ve read this year. I was actually so impressed with the ending I created a separate discussion page (spoiler warning for that discussion page). I would really love to discuss the ending with others who have read the book. Please, visit the page if you finished the book and share your thoughts!

What I didn’t like about The Little Stranger

There was really nothing I disliked. If I wanted to be truly meticulous I’d say that there could be more action in the first part of the story. I found it developing rather slowly there. That being said, I was so immersed into the whole atmosphere, the house, the characters that I didn’t really need anything else. I was enjoying the book completely.

Would I recommend The Little Stranger?

I would urge everybody to read The Little Stranger. Although this book is a bit slow for a typical thriller, I think it might still be liked by those who like reading thrillers. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who loves gothic literature, classic stories and the atmosphere of old England.

18 thoughts on “The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

  1. I Love your choice of books. And your review excites my mind and makes me want to feel the way you feel about the book. I should definitely check it out😁😁

    1. Thank you! Well, I saw very mixed reviews about this book. Many people found it boring and too slow. So I think you should go for it either when you are into some focus slow reading, or it’s even better if you listen to the audiobook because the narrator really makes it not boring at all.

      As for the choice of books, thank you 😊 I’m really careful when choosing what to read. I’ve been quite lucky this month, although the quality of books and the time spent on selecting them made me a slightly slower reader. I don’t think I’ll read 10 books this month 😁

    1. Which one of Sarah Water’s books did you read? The Little Stranger has a totally different feel from, say, Fingersmith or Tipping the Velvet.

      I’d recommend giving The Little Stranger a shot.

        1. I haven’t read any other of her books (although now I really want to), but I read online that The Little Stranger is different from all her other works. Still, though, it depends on what you didn’t like. If you didn’t like the writing, for example, I’m not sure she could change it much in a different book.

  2. I really liked this book. I am planning to watch the film version of it, but like you I’m wondering if it can really capture the depth of the original story. We shall see!

    1. Hi! I’m happy you liked it too! Have you written a review of it? I looked on your blog but haven’t found it. Please, leave me the link, if you did. I’m so curious to know what other people thought of it, of the ending in particular.

  3. I adore gothic style books and am particularly fond of crime/thriller novels. I’ve never heard of this title or even the movie adaptation, however, the way you so beautifully described it as a gothic psychological thriller, it seems right up my alley you’ve done more than enough to convince me to add this title to my TBR list! Great review!

    1. Thank you Lauren, I’m so happy to hear that 🙂 Yes, it’s exactly that, a mix of gothic and a psychological thriller. I keep seeing people not happy about how slow the book was, so I’m not sure how much you would like it. I personally wouldn’t change anything about the book. The depth of characters was enough for me to keep me entertained.

  4. I really gotta give this one another try. I started reading it a few years ago and it was just too slow to start for me; I put it down after about 50 pages. But, I hear such good things about it!! Nearly everyone who has read this book, loves it. The problem must be me, lol.

    1. I actually did hear people complaining how slow it was. And it is slow. I don’t know how many pages there are, but I felt like it was slow for the first half of the book. I wasn’t at least bored, maybe, because of the voice of the audiobook. He was really into the whole story, and it was infectious. I loved even the slow parts because of the way he was speaking about them.

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