There’s something queer in the house

Here is a rambling mystery set in England just after the First World War. The action all takes place on the estate of Colonel and Mrs Ayres; vast acres known as “Hundreds.”

The Little Stranger

By Sarah Waters

McClelland and Stewart Pub

Here is a rambling mystery set in England just after the First World War. The action all takes place on the estate of Colonel and Mrs Ayres; vast acres known as “Hundreds.”

Dr. Faraday is the narrator for the tale and his rather methodical way of explaining every detail, even when it does him no credit, gives the story an old fashioned tone.

Dr. Faraday visits “Hundreds” for the first time as a 10-year-old boy. The time is 1919 and the young, handsome Ayres family (they have a small daughter of six years) have thrown a fete on their grounds and passed out medals to the young Boy Scouts. Young Faraday is smitten by the mansion, and is allowed a secret trip into the grand place because his mother had once been in service there and still had friends among the staff. The once in a lifetime visit for a poor boy is a great treat and a memory dear to his heart.

The following year the Ayres family lost their six-year-old to diphtheria. Though they had other children born to them, a boy Roderick, and a girl Caroline, they lived a less public life .

Young Faraday is a smart lad who graduated from Medical School and became a Doctor. His mother had died when he was 15, his father barely survived his graduation. So he is alone in the world.

The story picks up thirty years later when Dr Faraday is called out to “Hundreds” to care for the one servant now employed there. Betty is a young girl who finds the old house creepy, with its long dark passages; she is more frightened than sick. So Dr Faraday at last meets the members of the Ayres family. Mrs Ayres is still in residence, as are Roderick and Caroline.

Roderick had been in the RAF and had suffered injuries. He is also suffering great stress in his attempt to keep the estate going with little money. Caroline is personable, though not a beauty. Her main company is her dog Gyp an old Labrador Retriever.

Dr. Faraday tip toes his way through all the details of this story. The decrepit, once glorious house, the family of good breeding, who live in a few rooms with candle light and little heat. The expectation placed on the son, to run the estate and keep up appearances, with no hope of success. The unlovely daughter with no marriage prospects, and of course the young housemaid, who is convinced “there is something queer in the house.“

Queer indeed with the horrible loss of old Gyp, an unexplained fire, family members collapsing mentally and a narrator who fancies both the house and the daughter of the house.

Dr. Faraday consults with his medical community who deal only in science and nothing metaphysical.

Yet the question must be asked; must the whole family be destroyed to satisfy that “queer thing in the house.”

Peggy Freeman is a local freelance writer.

Just Posted

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

Red Deer dancer attends national summer school

Dancers with others from across Canada and beyond

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Turning on Trump doesn’t buy credibility for black Americans

WASHINGTON — For years, Omarosa Manigault Newman stood at Donald Trump’s side,… Continue reading

Senior Chinese monk accused of sexual misconduct quits post

BEIJING — One of China’s most high-profile Buddhist monks has resigned from… Continue reading

Priests molested 1,000 children in Pennsylvania, report says

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while he was… Continue reading

Death toll hits 39 in Italy bridge collapse; blame begins

GENOA, Italy — Italian emergency workers pulled two more bodies out of… Continue reading

Constellation Brands spending $5 billion to increase stake in Canopy Growth

SMITH FALLS, Ont. — Constellation Brands has signed a deal to invest… Continue reading

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

TORONTO — When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her… Continue reading

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

TORONTO — The case of Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who faces three… Continue reading

Fredericton woman recounts terrifying moments after gunshots rang out

FREDERICTON — She awoke to the crack of gunfire, the shots fired… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month