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The Visitors Book by Sophie Hannah: Guest Post and Promo!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

In this small but perfectly formed collection of supernatural short stories, bestselling author, Sophie Hannah, takes the comforting scenes of everyday life and imbues them with a frisson of fear. Why is a young woman so unnerved by the presence of a visitors book in her boyfriend’s inner-city home? And whose spidery handwriting is it that fills the pages? Who is the strangely courteous boy still lingering at a child’s tenth birthday party when all the parents have gathered their children and left? And why does the presence of a perfectly ordinary woman in a post office queue leave another customer pallid and quaking with fear?

Goodreads Summary

My Real-Life 'Visitors Book' Experience
Sophie Hannah
It started with a throwaway comment from a friend, as I was about to leave her house: 'Oh - before you go, would you mind signing the Visitors Book?'  
I couldn't believe what I'd heard.  I nearly laughed - was about to laugh - but something stopped me.  A voice in my head whispered a warning.  Now, at a distance of several years, I can't remember exactly what the voice said, but it was something like: 'Wait! Before you laugh, remember all the other preposterous things that have actually happened, that you wouldn’t have believed possible because they were so utterly ludicrous. Maybe this is another one of those?'
So instead of laughing, I managed a more diplomatic 'Pardon?'  My friend repeated her request: 'Before you go, will you sign our Visitors Book?'  
OH MY GOODNESS. It was true. My friend had completely lost the plot. Somehow, she'd convinced herself that she was the Queen, or the Prime Minister, or the owner of a unique mansion with special historical significance.
I did a quick mental check: was it April Fool’s Day?  No, it was not.  Still, it might be a joke, I told myself – she might be just about to grin and say, ‘Ha, ha! Fooled you!’  The alternative seemed impossible: that my friend, a perfectly ordinary person like me, living in a perfectly ordinary house, as I did, would actually possess such a thing as a…
And then suddenly there it was in front of me, cutting off my frantic speculations.  She produced it from a cabinet drawer and handed it to me without any sign of embarrassment.  It was bound in green leather and had the words ‘Visitors Book’ printed on the cover in gold lettering.  It was big, too – bigger than A4 size.  I opened it and saw that, incredible though it seemed, people had actually signed this thing – other friends and relatives, presumably.  Obediently, they’d all entered the dates of their visits in the date column, then written their names, and, best of all, they’d left comments: ‘We had a lovely day!’, ‘A perfect visit – thank you so much!’ 
This was in the days before the phrase ‘WTAF?’ existed.  The way I saw it, I had two choices.  I could either sign my name, write the date and add something like, ‘I had a great time – my Earl Grey tea was exactly the right shade of beige,’ or I could say, ‘Don’t be so ridiculous!  Have you lost your mind?’  I suppose I could have been subtle and gone for an enigmatic ‘Why now, when you’ve never asked me to do this before?’ sort of answer.
I chose the latter course of action, mainly because I am constitutionally incapable of saying what I really think or feel about anything in real life (hence, I write fiction about what I truly think and how I truly feel!) I left my friend’s home with an insoluble puzzle, which to this day I don’t have an answer for: was I the snob, or was she?
To clarify: it seemed to me that either there’s absolutely no reason why an ordinary woman with an ordinary house shouldn’t own a Visitors Book and make her friends sign it – in which case it was snobbish of me to think she was getting ideas above her station and pretending to be grander than she was – or else she really was trying to act like the Lady of the Manor and create the impression that visits to her home were worthy of recording in a leather-bound book.
In the end, I concluded that probably something far weirder was going on in her mind – something I wouldn’t be able to imagine if I tried for a million years.  Human beings are infinitely more peculiar than we like to think they are.  And then I tried to imagine what her weird, secret motive might be…and that led, eventually, to me writing a supernatural story called The Visitors Book, about this very dilemma…
If I’m ever asked to sign a Visitors Book again, I know exactly what I’ll write: ‘What a coincidence – I’ve written a short story called The Visitors Book.  As the owner of a Visitors Book, you should read it!  (P.S. thank you for the Earl Grey tea, which was just the right shade of beige.)



Goodreads Summary:


In this small but perfectly formed collection of supernatural short stories, bestselling author, Sophie Hannah, takes the comforting scenes of everyday life and imbues them with a frisson of fear. Why is a young woman so unnerved by the presence of a visitors book in her boyfriend’s inner-city home? And whose spidery handwriting is it that fills the pages? Who is the strangely courteous boy still lingering at a child’s tenth birthday party when all the parents have gathered their children and left? And why does the presence of a perfectly ordinary woman in a post office queue leave another customer pallid and quaking with fear?

Review:

As someone who is a huge fan of the show Supernatural and Grim, I knew that this would be a good book for me. I liked the spooky feeling that I felt while reading the very short book. The author managed to keep a quiet tension throughout the pages. I did not connect very well with the main character (it's too short to really get to know her or feel sympathetic towards her), but I didn't really need to to enjoy the novel. The ending was not very easy to guess at and the reader will feel like he/she is kept on their toes. I love trying to unravel mysteries and figure out the ending and what may come next; this book is perfect for readers similar to me! I did prefer some stories over the others and there was one that I still don't quite understand (but it might just be me). Sophie Hannah is a very gifted writer and I will certainly be on the lookout for more of her books.

 4 Stars



This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

1 comments:

  1. CMash said...:

    I read her other short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets and have this one on my TBR list. Can't wait to read it, especially after reading your review.