Tag Archives: Susan Hill

The facts in the case of the departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman

The facts in the case of the departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman

“The facts in the case of the departure of Miss Finch” was familiar to me in the sense that the scenery set was very alike to an old Hammer Horror movie I am very fond of called “The Vampire Circus”; though I am not suggesting that this story is a breach of copy-right, merely that the scenery was similar, for example; the movie was about a vampire count who fell in love with a local school-teacher and got her delivering her young pupils occasionally for his dietary needs, eventually she was discovered by her husband delivering a child and the vampire executed in the usual fashion and the woman outcast from the village. She was told formerly by the count that if they were ever discovered that she could contact a cousin of his on the other side of the country who were a traveling night time circus that advertises mesmerism; during the killing of the count, the count had threatened the lynch mob that if he should die, then so should all the children of the village. Many years past and the traveling night circus came and sought revenge for their cousin in the most innovative ways imaginable.

Some of their first victims were visitors of the circus; they entered a tent where they saw various acts and a hall of mirrors only for them never to return to their families alive. Though primarily the movie was about the circus seeking revenge, most of the other victims were seduced into giving up their lives, it was the burgomaster that died in the tent under suspicious circumstances; but because he was so incredibly fat, people presumed the fun and laughter of the hall of mirrors had caused him to succumb to a heart attack.

Similar acts happened in Neil Gaiman’s story, very captivating in more ways than one and a delight for me to read, particularly as not only was it so very similar to my most favorite Hammer Horror movie, but it was also read within a week of me finishing “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern and “Emerald Star” by Jacqueline Wilson, which oddly enough have mesmerism and circus’s in their themes too – reading all was a fluke.

I do love stories that have carnival and circus themes to them, another story I read months before I read this Neil Gaiman classic was “The man in the picture” by Susan Hill.

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The man in the picture by Susan Hill

The man in the picture by Susan Hill

As a lover of anything to do with carnivals, masquerades, festivals, harlequins and circus’s as well as plunging into the depths of horror stories and movies, I found this novel absolute pleasure. Never before had I ever read a whole novel in one sitting, taking just 90 minutes, I was heavily pregnant with my first born son and it was just after 1am when I started, I thought I would only read a few pages before falling asleep, but I couldn’t, I just could not put the book down, it was like I was under some kind of spell.
It is an addictive read, I want more books of this kind and I have found myself looking subconsciously for stories of a similar theme over the past five years, never finding anything as compelling or as long as this masterpiece and I must say that is disappointing.
I both love and hate books that compel me so.
At first glance it would seem familiar in a Dorian Grey kind of way, but it isn’t – it is like a ghost story, but that’s not quite right either, the plot is simple, but fantastic. I am surprised it isn’t more widely known; I am surprised that Susan Hill fans have never made much of a scene of this novel as they have with “I’m the king of the castle” or “The woman in black”, but then that is hardly surprising as I rarely see this book on shelves in libraries or stores.
I think it should someday become known as a classic horror story, though its elusiveness to the public may be a detriment for that to become so.

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