The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

In Brief

When a young governess is placed in sole charge of two apparently angelic children, she falls under their youthful spell. As strange apparitions begin to reveal themselves, however, her rapture gives way to a growing fear that her charges are prey to evil influences against which she must do battle. But is she the virtuous heroine she believes herself to be or a deranged paranoid unfit to care for vulnerable children?

Why you should read it

With its atmosphere of impalpable evil and of monstrous spirits lurking behind heavenly appearances, The Turn of the Screw is one of the most chilling stories ever written. A psychological study as much as a ghost story, its horrible ambiguity imbues it with the power to both enchant and appall. As the contradictions and uncertainties mount up, James's timeless tale will leave you wondering if your own grasp on reality is quite as secure as you believed.

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