Read The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah Online


A MOTHER WITH AN EMPTY NEST IS BEING HAUNTED BY A GHOSTLY CHILDREN'S CHOIR. ARE THEY GIVING HER AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE THAT ONLY SHE CAN HEAR, OR ARE THEIR MOTIVES MORE SINISTER?Louise Beeston is being haunted.Louise has no reason left to stay in the city. She can't see her son, Joseph, who is away at boarding school, where he performs in a prestigious boys' choir. Her troubA MOTHER WITH AN EMPTY NEST IS BEING HAUNTED BY A GHOSTLY CHILDREN'S CHOIR. ARE THEY GIVING HER AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE THAT ONLY SHE CAN HEAR, OR ARE THEIR MOTIVES MORE SINISTER?Louise Beeston is being haunted.Louise has no reason left to stay in the city. She can't see her son, Joseph, who is away at boarding school, where he performs in a prestigious boys' choir. Her troublesome neighbor has begun blasting choral music at all hours of the night—and to make matters worse, she's the only one who can hear it.Hoping to find some peace, Louise convinces her husband, Stuart, to buy them a country house in an idyllic, sun-dappled gated community called Swallowfield. But it seems that the haunting melodies of the choir have followed her there. Could it be that her city neighbor has trailed her to Swallowfield, just to play an elaborate, malicious prank? Is there really a ghostly chorus playing outside her door? And why won't they stop? Growing desperate, she begins to worry about her mental health.Against the pleas and growing disquiet of her husband, Louise starts to suspect that this sinister choir is not only real but a warning. But of what? And how can it be, when no one else can hear it?In The Orphan Choir, Sophie Hannah brings us along on a darkly suspenseful investigation of obsession, loss, and the malevolent forces that threaten to break apart a loving family....

Title : The Orphan Choir
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250041029
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Orphan Choir Reviews

  • Blair
    2019-03-16 03:20

    I'm becoming quite the expert on these Hammer horror novellas: first The Greatcoat, then The Daylight Gate, then The Quickening, and now this. The Orphan Choir is narrated by Louise Beeston, the mother of seven-year-old Joseph, who has won a much-coveted place in the choir of Saviour College School. Unfortunately, this privilege requires him to become a boarding pupil, and Louise is both depressed at the amount of time she has to spend separated from her son, and fearful that others will think her a bad parent for allowing him to live away from home at such a young age. On top of this, she has another problem - her nuisance neighbour Justin Clay, who plays loud, annoying music throughout the night. When Louise pleads with him to lower the volume and then complains to the council, he starts taunting her in more inventive ways, most notably by playing recordings of a boys' choir performing the same songs Joseph has to sing. Yet when questioned by a council worker, Justin insists he has never even owned any choral music, despite owning up to his other offences. So why does Louise keep hearing it?I have mentioned before that despite Sophie Hannah's huge commercial success in the UK, I don't think she's a particularly good writer. It's always seemed so odd to me that she's also a poet, because her writing is the furthest thing from lyrical, and the main problem with fiction by poets is usually that it's difficult for them to stop their prose from sounding like poetry. Unfortunately, this book - despite initially appearing to be far more to my taste than her usual crime fare - didn't do anything to alter this negative opinion.I wondered for a large portion of The Orphan Choir where it was actually going: the funny thing is that much more than half of the story is essentially exposition. Despite the fact that it's part of the Hammer imprint and is, you would assume, meant to be a horror story, there's no suggestion of anything supernatural until the book is near to its end, and it's not even slightly scary. The more I read, the more questions I had, and I was disappointed to find that many of them were never answered. How can it be possible for Louise and Stuart to own a Victorian townhouse in Cambridge, spend £30k on sandblasting it, AND afford to BUY a second home in a gated community with bespoke modernist houses and 500 acres of private land, unless they're multi-millionaires? And if they ARE meant to be multi-millionaires, surely Louise wouldn't feel inferior to the other mothers at her son's school and wouldn't talk about 'treating herself' to a fresh towel, costing £1, at the spa? Justin's occupation is similarly mysterious - he also lives in a townhouse, which (it's mentioned often) is lavishly decorated, yet the way he behaves makes it sound like he's a student: he doesn't get up until the afternoon, sits around getting stoned all day, and has raucous parties with a group of misfits. As for (view spoiler)[Bethan killing Joseph - where the bloody hell did that come from?! Was that one paragraph about Bethan's divorce meant to be enough to set up the fact that she would go on to murder a child??? (hide spoiler)]? And what was up with (view spoiler)[Louise knowing a strange amount of detail about some of the dead children? And the implications that something weird had been going on with her before all of this started (hide spoiler)]? So many intriguing strands of the plot weren't resolved at all, and some of the details were just laughable - the obsession with everyone having to be quiet all the time at Swallowfields (heavy-handed), and Louise saying she was 'on the road to becoming a drug addict' because she had a small bag of cannabis hidden in a drawer!The Orphan Choir is not really a ghost story. It's more like a short psychological thriller with a horror element shoehorned in to make it relevant to the theme. A lot of the elements that make up the plot are actually really interesting: the combination of a problematic neighbour (a very realistic kind of horror) with hints of the supernatural; the the fact that Louise's sanity is questionable; the air of mystery surrounding her relationship with Stuart and what might have happened in the family before this story began. In fact, if it had been purely psychological with no ghost bits, it would probably have been better (and more scary!) As it is, it feels disjointed, as if it's been written in a hurry and needs about five rewrites to make proper sense. Sophie Hannah fans might like this, I suppose. As a ghost story aficionado, I was not impressed at all. The best I can say about the book is that it's very readable and does keep you turning the pages - I wouldn't have wanted to give up on it without knowing what the ending would be. I saw a lot of promise in the plot, but the way it was executed left me disappointed. If you want a good, creepy, exciting ghost story, I recommend you spend your money on Julie Myerson's The Quickening instead.

  • Matthew Gray
    2019-03-25 02:59

    This is the first book in years that has physically infuriated me. It gets 2 stars only because the protagonist gets what I wanted her to get at the end.This is the story of Louise Beeston, contender for most annoying mother of the year, who is plagued by a neighbour who plays loud music a few times and therefore, naturally, sends our hero into fits of absurd hysteria, and also has to contend with the pain of having her son away at a choir school, and she wants him back. One hundred pages in and she seemingly solves this little 'problem'. This whole section is boring and pointless and, most importantly, not scary.So, as a ghost story, this fails beyond anything I've ever read. I was more haunted by the sadness and melancholia of works like The Road, which did not have ghosts in it at all, and this just asserts the piss poor scares this book provides.A third of the way in, brief ghostly moment. Then nothing for another hundred, then mildly evocative ghostly moment then wild ending which came from nowhere.The main problem, and this is the reason I disliked the protagonist. She shouts a lot. Not just a bit, but all the time , when she isn't shouting at the council for not locking up her neighbour, she's shouting at her husband for not being more supportive, or she's shouting at her son's tutor for keeping him somehow, against her will. Then she shouts some more and moans and then, bizarrely, at the end she flips completely and becomes so calm and eerie I think she inhaled a truck load of drugs.The narrative that Sophie Hannah utilises is a choice which is very popular at the moment and I fail to see how. The problem with a first person present tense is that the writing cannot help but feel sloppy and this is no exception. The language is basic, which is fine, except that the way one though flows to the next reads at times like a stream of consciousness, which means we're stuck in the fucking diarrhoea that is the protagonist's bowel of a brain.In conclusion: not scary, stick to psychological thrillers please.

  • Claire Meadows
    2019-02-23 22:11

    I read several women's magazines that said that this was 'utterly scary' and 'will keep you up all night'.It's not - and it didn't.Louise is unlikeable - so self absorbed and conceited that I didn't really care about what happened to her.Not for me at all - I'm just glad I got it on offer, and not paid full price.Note to Self and Others - don't pay attention to women's magazine book reviews

  • Bill Kupersmith
    2019-03-15 03:04

    This ghost story is built around Anglican ritual, specifically choral evensong, the sung version of the service of evening prayer according to the traditional Book of Common Prayer, as it would be observed in the chapel of a Cambridge college. The college here is called Saviour. It boasts an excellent choir of sixteen boys who reside at college during term time. Our narrator, Louise or Lou, is the mother of one of the youngest choristers, Joseph, age seven.It is obvious from the beginning of The Orphan Choir that Lou is in a severely debilitated spiritual condition. Like many whose spirituality is starved of proper nourishment, she is focussed on idolatry, fixated on worshipping her son and obsessed with his absence from home, even though she and her husband live in Cambridge and see Joseph several times a week at services and receptions afterwards. She despises Dr. Freeman, the choir director, whom she sees as depriving her of her son by refusing to make an exception to the rule that all choristers reside in college. (I would expect that so long as his parents reside in Cambridge and provide him with nice stuff, that Joseph vastly prefers the company of his mates from the choir to the constant attentions of his mum, whose clinginess makes an anaconda seem stand-offish by comparison.Although she attends services regularly, Louise has no sense of the ceremony as a religious experience, and is liturgically and scripturally illiterate. At one point she wonders at the verse in the Magnificat, ‘the rich he hath sent away empty’ and wonders at what ‘the author’ meant. The ‘author’ of course was St. Luke or the Virgin Mary, depending on how you think about it, with some assistance from Hannah in 1st Samuel as anyone with a minimal Anglican formation (or who had taken my Bible as literature course) knows.Louise is also being tormented by her neighbour, who gives extremely noisy parties and plays loud pop music late into the night, laughing at her complaints. After the council authorities fail to silence the neighbour, who has the suggestive name Justin Clay (try it as three words) a local music shop suggests that Lou give him a taste of even worse medicine by loudly playing Capleton’s Leave Babylon, which works. (Try a sample on iTunes). But the pop music is replaced with choral music that only Lou can really hear and with which Justin appears to have nothing to do.Lou escapes by buying a house in a gated community called Swallowfield an hour and a half’s drive from Cambridge in the Culver Valley, a community which makes a fetish of quiet and orderliness where the inhabitants are constantly observed. (Some literally live in glass houses/). Even children are not allowed to splash in the pool.Some reviewers have questioned how Lou could have afforded two expensive houses, and if Swallowfield lis in the Culver Valley, readers of Sophie Hannah’s mystery stories expect it would be protected by that sterling law enforcement team the Culver Valley Constabulary, under the brilliant leadership of Superintendent Proust and featuring dysfunctional personal relationships. Fortunately Sophie Hannah does not mix her genres. Instead we meet the Swallowfield sales rep Bethan who lives in a cubical house called Hush. Lou’s new house is named The Boundary and has a glass front.Even the reader who is tied to the canons of realistic fiction ought to realise by now that Swallowfield is listed in no earthly post-code directory and that that we are indeed at a boundary between the land of the living and somewhere that is not in the same same time zone as any of us presently inhabits. And at Swallowfield Lou not only hears the choristers who give the title to this book, she will see them, and eventually she will learn who they are.In an epilogue Sophie Hannah pays homage to Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black and like Hill’s work, The Orphan Choir exhibits many elements squarely in the tradition of M. R. James, the greatest exponent of the Classic English ghost story. We have here the Cambridge College with the chapel, choir school and Anglican worship.I’ve found most attempts to stretch a M. R. James story to the length of a full-scale novel unsatisfying, and even novella length, like Andrew Taylor’s Broken Voices or Hill’s The Woman in Black, seems a bit long. Although a short novel, The Orphan Choir dragged badly for me. Sophie Hannah seemed to take forever setting things up. And I suspect many readers find Lou’s constant whinging extremely irritating. For most of this book I wondered if it could earn even two stars.My four-star rating (probably a trifle generous) was earned by the absolutely splendid denouement, that totally satisfied me aesthetically, emotionally, spiritually, and may I add theologically and liturgically. Lou receives exactly the nunc demittis she’s been seeking unwittingly from the beginning, when she was already spiritually dead but did not know it.

  • H.A. Leuschel
    2019-03-16 02:53

    A quick well written story with spooky bits but not too spooky for the likes of me who are easily spooked ... It's my first encounter with Sophie Hannah's writing and I will certainly look out for another of her books in the future!

  • Patrice Hoffman
    2019-03-11 04:10

    Lately I haven't had much time to read books as voraciously as I used to so I have been extremely particular with what books I allow to occupy my limited time. The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah is one of the books I decided to read based on it being described as a woman's ascent into madness with horror elements in it. The first part is quite true but the second half of that assessment is very far from the truth. The Orphan Choir is narrated by Louise. A woman who is driven mad by the insane thumping of her neighbors music at odd hours of the night. To make matters worse, she's convinced he's doing it intentionally. All she wants is a little peace and quiet so she can go back to complaining about the loss of her son Joseph who boards at a prominent school where he's a member of the Saviour Choir. Before long, Louise hears her sons choir and can't understand why she deserves such torture.In an effort to get away from her noisy neighbor in Cambridge, Louise moves with her husband Stuart to a quiet slice of heaven of England's countryside. Ultimately, Louise finds that quite possibly the music she's hearing may in fact be in her head. Could she be missing her son so much that she can't get the choral music out of her head, or is something more sinister at play?Honestly, I was not in love with this novel for a good while. It's an easy, engrossing read yet the narrator takes some getting used to. I could have maybe appreciated this novel more had I not gotten in her head. Ironic, huh? Seriously, she complains about everything. To top off her complaining, she whines to no end about how much she misses her son who's away at the boarding school. What ultimately saves this novel for me is the ending. I was ready to write this one off as just another novel with not much going on but... I feel it ends perfectly. Sophie Hannah pretty much owed me for wasting so much time and energy on Louise that the ending needed to make up for it big time. I liked the ending and yes, it does supply that horror feel the blurb suggests. My overall thoughts are that The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah was not bad at all. I only wish there was a starring character I could actually want to be in the same room with. The Orphan Choir is a fast read and may appeal to fans of psychological suspense. Overall, I would like to read more by this author so long as I get a little more horror and a lot less Louise.Copy Provided by Picador USA via Netgalley

  • Susan Northen
    2019-03-14 02:16

    I was so disappointed with this book. I was lured into reading it and was very excited to read it because of the blurb I had read in a magazine which said it would keep me awake at night with fear. Great I thought! I read it over four days, quickly, because I was desperate for it to actually get going. It was yawningly boring for a supposed scary ghost story which wasn't really a ghost story at all until right at the end, the last few pages. Which in themselves were equally disappointing. It was a little like reading something a child would write for an essay at school. The writing was also far too flippant to be scary and trying to be too clever and hip. I actually did not like the style of writing at all. I have another of Sophie Hannah's books which was not terribly good either unfortunately. I get so cross when I read books like this because I feel as though I have wasted my time. I am going to give her another chance - I am about to start The Carrier. If this one is equally awful I shall not be reading any more...hey ho...

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-21 06:01

    Well I am never getting that time back!

  • Jessica
    2019-03-12 05:10

    Creepy psychological thriller FTW.I love Sophie Hannah, and while I didn't inhale The Orphan Choir the way I did, say, Little Face, I did stay up half the night reading it. I love, love, love the fact that the protagonist is so unlikable. She's unlikable in a very real way; several times while I was reading I found myself making faces at the page and thinking how very much I would hate to be married to someone like that. It's exhausting to be Louise Beeston. She's paranoid and neurotic and narcissistic to the point that she can't imagine how everything could not be about her. She keeps herself awake weeping because she's sure her neighbor is plotting against her. But here's the other part: her neuroses stem from the fact that her seven year old son, a singing prodigy, has been accepted to a prestigious boarding school. I've got a seven year old son; I cannot imagine only getting to see him at performances and on holidays. So she's horrible, yes, but I can sympathize with some of it. The horror element of the story builds slowly; if you're looking for something that will plunge you into the action, this is not the book for you. But because Louise is so self-involved, the reader actually starts feeling the horror before she does, which is a lot of fun. The bottom line: this is a great ghost story, and a nice departure from Hannah's other thrillers (which are fantastic in their own right).

  • Livinginthecastle
    2019-02-27 02:10

    A extraordinarily bad novel, which is made worse by the neurotic and bizarre obsessions of the main character. Most of the book was taken up by noise nuisance information and we didn't get to the nitty gritty of the orphan choir until about halfway through the book. The ending had no real connection to the obsessions running through the book, so essentially it felt a bit shoved together at the last minute. 1.5 stars, because it was quite bad in an entertaining way.

  • James Mcquillan
    2019-03-02 03:20

    I have read most of Sophie Hannah's books and have liked them all but this is the worst book I have ever read

  • Filipa
    2019-03-06 04:09

    É difícil para mim escrever uma opinião deste livro porque:- Até mais de meio, foi uma seca para mim lê-lo (não ando com muita sorte com os livros), muito repetitivo, sem grande coisa a acontecer e bastante previsível.- A partir da parte em que deixou de ser seca foi de leitura compulsiva, se bem que... também me arruinou um outro livro que tenho para ler, um clássico que se chama: "The woman in black"... pois diz se gostei desse, iria gostar deste e assim, percebi a temática do clássico...Um casal que vive num sítio longe de ser problemático, tem um filho, mas esse filho não vive com eles. Está num prestigiado colégio de música e pertence ao seu coro, sendo um dos melhores.Acontece que, este colégio funciona como um colégio interno, ou seja, os alunos que o frequentam apenas estão com os pais em alguns fins de semana e nas férias.E é isto que faz com que a mãe... fique louca.Ela não consegue suportar o filho longe. Ela precisa do filho na sua casa, com eles, todos os dias e aqui percebe-se que o filho foi para o colégio contra sua vontade...Entra em conflito com um vizinho que ouve música aos altos berros e a perturba no seu sono.Até que um dia, ela cisma que o vizinho quer que ela fique doida colocando música de coros... apenas a uma certa hora da noite e mais tarde quando o marido (devido ao seu trabalho) não se encontra em casa...O livro desenvolve-se até que aparecem novas personagens para ajudar Louise a lidar com o seu vizinho e até Louise decidir que não consegue viver ali e mudar-se.Começam os verdadeiros problemas e vamos conhecer o coro de meninos orfãos...A escrita da autora também foi um pouco aborrecida. O ritmo nem aqueceu nem me arrefeceu.Foi uma leitura que vai ter as minhas 3 estrelas mas é como na escola... um satisfaz.. menos (2,5*).

  • Marissa Morrison
    2019-03-09 23:15

    This may be the worst book I've ever read that does not promote objectionable ideas. The plot is so bad that I felt personally insulted by the author's thinking that a reader such as myself might enjoy it.

  • Majanka
    2019-03-07 22:19

    Review originally published here: Orphan Choir is a strange book. More than half of the book is exposition, setting up for this grand and mysterious supernatural event to happen in the last fifty-or-so pages. This isn’t particularly bad – I like horror stories with a good build up – but the problem here is that the climax is so anticlimatic it feels like the build up is going nowhere. There are so many inconsistencies in this book and so many moments where I was going ‘what the hell is going on’ that I’m surprised the author already has several books under her belt. It reads like a debut novel, in that plot-wise it’s still clumsy, and there are so many plot holdes I’m shocked an editor didn’t catch them.Louise has felt depressed ever since her seven-year-old kid has been sent away to boarding school, where he sings in a professional choir. Her relationship with her husband is less than amazing, and she misses her little boy. She starts hearing strange noises in her own home, but initially blames it on the neighbor, who likes to blast his music all through the night. When the music that starts playing is a children’s choir, she thinks it’s just another way of the neighbor to torment her. She calls in the police, and a female cop shows up who acts a little strange but otherwise promises Louise to help her fix her problem. When Louise’s husband in another act of egocentrism decides it’s time to sand their house, blocking out all light for weeks, Louise starts feeling like a trapped animal.She finds a gated community selling houses, and convinces her husband to buy a second home there, where they can take Joseph during his holiday. It baffled me that one moment Louise is worrying about spending money and the other moment they buy a second home, while renovating their current home. It makes no sense to me, but I was willing to forgive that if the book wasn’t riddled with other errors of the same sort. At the community, everything is fine for a while, and Louise begins to suspect hearing the eerie choir sing was due to stress and losing her son to the boarding school rather than the noisy neighbor. That is, until the noise resurfaces when she hears her son will be forced to go back to boarding school early. While her husband Stuart tries to calm her down, Louise begins to seriously freak out and has a ghostly encounter that’ll change her forever.The problem is that the ghosts make no appearance until at the end, which makes this book read more like a psychological thriller rather than a ghost story. I’m not saying the author should’ve gone into full-out ghost mode straightaway, but the tension builds up for too long and results in too little. The encounter at the end is hardly spectacular or scary. Louise is an underdeveloped character who has no backbone to speak of, and only has two emotions: fear and anxiety. She constantly worries about what others think of her, and never develops throughout the book. Joseph and Stuart are more like cardboard figures than people. Stuart’s sole personality trait is to annoy Louise constantly, making me wonder why they ever married in the first place.Then there’s this scene at the end coming out of nowhere that made me want to throw the book in the garbage bin. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll be vague here. Something happens, out of nowhere, without any hints whatsoever, and it’s messed up and strange and makes absolutely no sense. It’s a Deus Ex Machina moment more obvious than I’ve ever seen before.When Louise has her encounter with the spirits, it’s not even remotely scary, which was another letdown. I would’ve at least hoped, since this book was classified as horror, that it would be scary. Instead, it’s a melancholic, sad, depressing moment.The pacing is slow, but I could live with that. The writing is pretty bland, but somehow it works. Even Louise’s less-than-interesting personality works. What doesn’t work are the clichés piled upon clichés, the storylines going nowhere, the absolute lack of tension and the unnecessary plot twists to over-complicate the book. I for one, am not impressed. If you’re a fan of ghost stories, you can give The Orphan Choir a shot, but there are a lot of other, far better, ghost novels out there.

  • Shell Louise
    2019-03-15 23:06

    This is a change from the other Sophie Hannah books I've read and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It got me back into reading after the break I took in December (too busy to find the time!).I hope SH writes some books like this.I'll be doing a full review on my blog

  • Amy
    2019-03-23 23:03

    I liked this well enough, but I felt the ending and conclusion were rushed and not sufficient payoff for what came before.

  • Joanne Sheppard
    2019-03-07 03:53

    The Orphan Choir is the third novel I've read in Hammer's series of horror novels by by non-horror authors - the others being Helen Dunmore's The Greatcoat, which I loved, and Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate, which I wanted to love but didn't. By crime writer and poet Sophie Hannah, The Orphan Choir is part ghost story, part psychological thriller, with a tense, oppressive atmosphere and an intriguingly unreliable narrator.The story opens with narrator Louise driven to distraction by a feckless, selfish neighbour who plagues her regularly with his loud music. (If Louise's reaction to this seems extreme, I speak as someone who once suffered a similar problem with my own neighbour and I assure that Louise's taut, paranoid fury is all too plausible.) Despite the support of Pat Jervis, the Environmental Health Officer who arrives to investigate the noise in the middle of the night, the noise continues - and this time, it seems that Louise's neighbour has found a new way to torment her. He's stopped playing his former repertoire of 80s hits, and instead, he's moved on to choral church music, sung by boy choristers. Desperately missing her seven-year-old son Joseph, who has recently begun boarding at a prestigious choir school and feeling horribly claustrophobic as work on the exterior of the house generates endless dust and blocks out natural light, Louise appears to descend into obsession and hysteria. A second home in an almost disturbingly peaceful gated community in the countryside could be the answer ... or will the voices of the choir follow her there too?One of the great successes of The Orphan Choir is the deftly constructed narrative. It's Louise herself who tells the story, and it's often hard for the reader to gauge the state of Louise's mental health - just at is for her occasionally dismissive but ultimately confused husband Stuart. Louise is sharply witty and observant but she's also prone to paranoia and erratic behaviour at times. Could the biggest danger faced by Louise, and even her son Joseph, actually be Louise herself? Is it possible that the voices she hears and the visions she sees are figments of an increasingly over-active imagination? In this sense, I heard echoes of The Turn of the Screw in The Orphan Choir, and that, of course, can only be an excellent thing.The Orphan Choir works well, then, as a psychological mystery - but what of the ghost story? Well, I'm glad to say that Sophie Hannah has made a fine job of her foray into supernatural horror, and Hannah has an excellent command of those essential elements of eerie, slowly escalating suspense characteristic of all the best ghost literature. I found The Orphan Choir tense, chilling and unsettling, and it seems clear to me that Sophie Hannah has a genuine respect and understanding for the genre (something I found sadly lacking in Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate).This is a short read, into which Sophie Hannah has somehow managed to pack numerous twists without ever making this slim little volume feel rushed or over-complicated: the careful layering of tension and atmosphere is executed at the perfect pace as The Orphan Choir edges creepily towards its climax. Suitably for a novel with Hammer connections, there's a strong gothic flavour, but it's employed in a modern setting, to excellent effect. The Orphan Choir is a beautifully constructed, atmospheric chiller which I highly recommend - and if you've got time to read it one sitting, so much the better, as once you get to the halfway point, you won't want to put it down.

  • Jonathan Crossfield
    2019-02-27 04:57

    The sticker on the cover insists that if you liked The Woman in Black, you'll love this. This isn't surprising as the book is published by Hammer who produced the recent film adaptation and are now going to milk that ghost classic even further with a sequel.But this book has about as much in common with Susan Hill's brilliant novel as Count Duckula has with Christopher Lee's Dracula.A ghost story has to be scary. But when the first person narrator doesn't even realise there is anything supernatural going on for at least a good three quarters of the book - and therefore shows no fear - the book hits a major problem. My patience wore out long before the first inkling of anything that could be considered a ghostly visitation. I only stuck with the book to the end because I couldn't quite believe one could be written where the writer forgot to put one in.In fact, if you were to count the number of pages dedicated to the supernatural, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was just a subplot anyway. The real story seems to be a neurotic and extremely irritating mother pining for her son at boarding school and overthinking her war with her neighbour. The book strikes me as a very short story that has been padded out beyond breaking point to reach the necessary word count for a novella. And it is really, really broken.The first person viewpoint really handicaps the book because the lead character is just so goddamn unlikeable. And I say that having only read America Psycho for the first time last year. At least Patrick Bateman was entertainingly insane. Her annoyingly repetitive and ridiculous obsessions become wearing very quickly and even the final outcome seems primarily to be motivated out of her selfishness. She doesn't change. There is no lesson learned. And the first person viewpoint puts you right inside her head, which makes this an extremely frustrating read. "...I never have cared about facts when they don't feel true," she says at one point, reinforcing Louise's complete lack of any critical thinking ability. Sadly, this slows the book down terribly because the reader understands what's really going on many chapters before Louise is finally and begrudgingly forced to accept reality.So if you want to spend a few hours in the company of a neurotic and irritating helicopter mother who will spend pages documenting the noises of her neighbour in excruciating detail and scant paragraphs to anything paranormal (because she doesn't realise that's what they are) you'll love this.Maybe the sticker on the cover should read 'If you were too scared by The Woman in Black, you'll love this.'

  • Keith Walters
    2019-03-17 00:20

    With Hammer books snapping up some great authors already to work on their books, Shaun Hutson, Julie Myerson, Jeanette Winterson, Helen Dunmore and Tim Lebbon to name a few, it’s great news that crime authors seem to be stepping up to the mark now too.Martyn Waites recently announced that he is penning a sequel to one of Hammer’s greatest and most recent hit ‘The Woman in Black’ and now we have Sophie Hannah with this slow burn but very rewarding tale. What starts out as a ‘neighbours from hell’ tale, tinged with great humour as her central character wrestles with the fact that the disturbances from her ‘Mr Fahrenheit’ who insists on playing Freddy Mercury at loud volume into the small hours, slowly and creepily evolves into something fare more threatening as the supernatural elements come out to play.Unlike many tales of ghostly goings-on, this isn’t a case of what’s bothering Louise being something hidden in her home’s past, rather something that will follow her wherever she tries to flee and take solace.Children in horror tales and movies are always a hit, and having an entire choir of the little ankle-biters here cannot fail to amp up the tension as the story progresses.I’ve read a couple of reviews where readers have commented that the novella is slow to get into the supernatural parts, but I think that is to the story’s strength and only serves to build the tension – We know that bad things are coming and the longer an author can put off that reveal whilst successfully keeping the interest going can only serve to make for a more rewarding ghost tale.It’s great to see Hammer rising again and growing from strength to strength, and for it to be bringing some top authors along for the ride.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-27 00:06

    Won this in the Goodreads -FirstReads giveaway program. Looks quite interesting!..................................................And that is where it stops. Initial looks and synopsis sound good, delivery was lacking ANY punch.I don't even know how to genre this. It isn't a horror-way too mild- but mystery isn't quite it. How about Annoying ranting and ravings with a slight horrific/mystery twist at the end. And I do mean slight. You can tell something is going on throughout the book that is off, but the MC gets utterly grating o ones nerves with her complaining and self-delusions, etc. I really had a hard time with this. I felt it to really drag and by quite dull. I hated the characters.

  • Lorrie McCullers
    2019-03-17 02:10

    I have loved all of Sophie Hannah's other books, so I was excited to read this one. Well, that feeling didn't last very long. After only a few pages in, I wanted to strangle Louise Beeston myself. Annoying, shouty, and unreasonable don't even begin to describe this character. I found myself rooting for the noisy neighbor.This book is touted as a ghost story, but it barely contains a supernatural element, and it's so forced into the story that it almost feels like an after-thought.I hope Sophie Hannah sticks with the psychological thrillers that she normally writes, and abandons this line of writing.

  • Sean Smart
    2019-03-22 03:10

    I really wanted to like this but didnt - I think the main problem was a promotional sticker on the cover saying something like - "If you loved the Woman in Black you will love this." I did really enjoy the original Woman black novel by Susan Hill but this was nothing like it and not as scary at all.It was well written and I felt for the main character who had a very hard time from a noisy neighbour from hell and an uncaring husband, and who missed her 7 year old son very much but it felt like it was a novel about an ordinary dysfunctional family with all its stresses and strains, and not so much about ghosts.

  • Renita D'Silva
    2019-02-26 00:21

    Reading Sophie Hannah is like meeting up with an old friend - I know I will have a good time. A departure from her psychological thrillers and yet, just as good, this gothic horror tale kept me enthralled and scared me in equal measure. Like all her books, I did not see what was coming. Spine chilling, goose bump inducing, brilliant.

  • Antonina Kozłowska
    2019-02-27 02:13

    WTF? Co to właściwie miało być?

  • Maddison
    2019-03-13 01:01

    This was very unexpected. So different from what I thought, and I have to say I was disappointed. It didn't live up to my expectations. I was expecting either a song about music, or a horror or something, but I suppose that's what I get from not reading the blurb :p I'm pleased it was a shorty, because I didn't want to have to keep listening. I commend Stuart for (view spoiler)[putting up with Louise and her self-centered temperament, but then I also hate the way he was just okay to buy a totally new expensive house (hide spoiler)] and I totally get where she's coming from with Fahrenheit. That would seriously put me off! And then it turns out that (view spoiler)[majority of it was in her head, and she was hallucinating! (hide spoiler)] Didn't expect that until the scene in the house after (view spoiler)[the Dr came around. (hide spoiler)]

  • Michele
    2019-02-28 06:06

    If I hadn't already read some of Sophie Hannah's other than work, I would not be inclined to pick up another one after this. Luckily, I enjoyed two of her other books before this, so I know that she's a talented writer. However, this book was pretty boring. It was a creepy premise and might have made a decent short story, but it really didn't interest me much until the last 30 pages or so. If you've never read anything of hers, read Little Face or The Wrong Mother first!!

  • Rosie
    2019-03-03 03:55

    * Spoilers*Absolute rubbish. Ghosts stories are all about the atmosphere, and there was none here. Honestly, if I had picked up this book without knowing it was meant to be a ghost story the ending would have come out of nowhere, that's how little the supernatural features throughout this book before the last 20 pages.I think perhaps Sophie Hannah was trying to go for a 'Turn of the Screw'-type story, where the reader is unsure whether there really are ghostly goings-on or whether the narrator is mad. Except that the narrator doesn't think anything ghostly is happening, and as such does not create any kind of fear or anticipation in the reader. She thinks it's her neighbour playing choral music, so we think it's her neighbour too. She's not scared, so neither are we. For this tale to have worked, Louise needed to believe that the music she was hearing was supernatural from much earlier on.I also had several problems with certain other aspects of the novel:1) Why would a family rich enough to buy a luxury second home be so desperate for their son to keep a school scholarship, especially one which means he is forced to board away from home at just 7 years old? Presumably they're rich enough to pay for him to go to any good school. I understand that Hannah wants us to accept it's because the choir is so fantastic, but honestly, that's rubbish and completely unbelievable. No mother as desperately clingy as Louise would send her son away when she could afford to pay for him to attend another excellent school where he could live at home and still sing in a renowned choir.2) Why was the second home necessary at all? It didn't add anything to the plot, and it probably would have been more atmospheric for the novel to have taken place in their temporarily darkened Cambridge home.3) Pat Jarvis. She's dead, but she showed up right on time after someone from Environmental Health told Louise they were sending a representative to assess her noise situation. Nobody else came knocking on Louise's door...why not? Where was the actual representative? You know, the alive one.4) The noise diary full of ridiculous, irrelevant information that nobody would ever put in a document like that. What a lazy way for Hannah to impart information to the reader about Louise's marriage and her son being at boarding school.5) The ridiculous ending. I don't even know what to say about it. There are no words, it was beyond stupid. (view spoiler)[ I was particularly unimpressed that Louise is happy enough for her son to be murdered as long as she can still be with him. No mother would feel that way, ever. (hide spoiler)]All in all I'd say don't waste your time. This book was so, so bad. There are so many actual ghost stories better than this. At best, 'The Orphan Choir' is a seriously poor psychological not-really-thriller. No way is it a ghost story.

  • Sistermagpie
    2019-03-19 00:05

    The book starts with the narrator angrily slopping through a rainstorm to tell her neighbor to turn down his music. I thought this was going to be a little thing that quickly led to the ghost story. Instead this situation really takes over the whole book. It's just like listening to somebody obsess over their neighbor who makes noise on Saturday nights once a month. Even when it's clear the narrator is going a bit mad--imagining the guy putting speakers in her house etc.--it's still just basically listening to her be furious over this obsession.This sound problem happens to coincide with ghostly singing, but it really is just a coincidence. When the narrator and her husband move to a gated community that prizes silence this seems like the payoff, like Swallowfield has been maneuvering to get her out there where she'll be sacrificed to some cult of silence or something. But no, she really is just living in an incredibly snooty gated community where people don't like noise and she still sometimes hears singing and other times freaks out over her son having to board at school because he's in the choir. What made it even more frustrating was that on on the one hand the narrator was incredibly neurotic, annoying and obnoxious. But otoh I shared her irritation with the choirmaster who felt entitled to other peoples' 7 year old boys if they sang really well. Like, as annoying as Lou was sobbing over her son being away from home, I was even more annoyed when the woman finally got a few weeks of vacation to be with her son and this damn choir director starts calling and showing up at the house to talk about yet more services she didn't know the kid had to sing at or whatever. So basically, tiny ghost story that wasn't particularly scary buried within many pages of disputes with teacher and neighbors. Oh, also the narrator's son, Joseph, is apparently the most amazingly musical kid ever, we keep hearing, but his main personality trait is being agreeable. He's fine moving away from home at 7, fine devoting himself to the choir, fine leaving the school if it's making his mother have a nervous breakdown and fine being dead.

  • Laurel-Rain
    2019-03-16 01:02

    The sound is loud, coming from the next-door neighbor’s house, and it has jolted Louise Beeston right out of her sleep. It is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and it is the song that usually starts it all. The weekend music blasting cruelly into her bedroom. No matter how many times she has politely requested that the neighbor, Justin Clay, please turn it down.Her husband Stuart is nonchalant. He is not even pretending to be supportive. In fact, the noise doesn’t really bother him. He can sleep through anything.So begins the saga of the noise nuisance that will drive Louise to take drastic steps. But more will transpire before that happens. Louise will call the police, who will refer her to environmental health. A report will be made. And steps will be taken. Or so she believes.Meanwhile, as time passes, something changes. The music is now that of choir boys singing, and it appears at odd times. And there is no way to prove the sounds are even occurring, as nobody else hears them.The Orphan Choir is a disturbing story of what happens when one woman desperately misses her seven-year-old son, Joseph, who is a boarder at Saviour College, run by a Dr. Freeman. The story is a mix of madness, despair, and ghostly warnings. Even as I kept imagining one scenario, another would appear. I thought I would discover that the husband and Dr. Freeman were playing cruel tricks on Louise. But I was wrong.What does Louise do to try to escape the noise pollution next door? How will her new second home at Swallowfield give her the peace she desires? Why does she suddenly realize that the noise is not the issue, but that more is going on, and that there will be no peace to be found anywhere? A surreal set of events unfold, and finally, at the very end, we realize what has transpired. 4 stars.

  • Ionia
    2019-03-04 22:58

    In the beginning I had a few reservations about this book. I wasn't sure how long the author could use the noisy neighbour as the focal point of the story and it seemed as though things weren't moving along as quick as I would expect. I am pleased to report that there was in fact a good reason she focused on this part of the story and that soon after there was a turning point in the story that not only made it worth the time to read, but surprised me in the process. I enjoyed this book. Sophie Hannah has a way of drawing the reader into the world of her characters with her unexpected and witty dialogue. I liked the realism of her character's speech and her ability to make things seem as though they were happening in the same room with me. Admittedly, I have a thing for creepy novels and stuff that goes bump in the night, but because of this I find it hard to enjoy a lot of books in this category. it seems authors usually go for a set model of how everything is going to go in this type of novel and that bugs me. This author took some risks by breaking away from the expected and I thought that worked in her favour. The ending of this novel was not the least bit predictable and I appreciated that. Try as I might to figure out exactly what was going to happen, I wasn't able to until the final page. If you enjoy suspenseful novels with a heavy dose of psychological terror, this will be a book you want to check out. This review is based on a digital ARC from netgalley and provided by the publisher.