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Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell is maddening. She is the daughter of a successful jeweler, she studied English at Oxford, she stars in BBC's extremely popular show Call the Midwife, and to top it all off, she wrote this excellent book.

She also looks like this, which is just rude

You might recognize her from GIFs I've shoved at you of Call the Midwife's couple Patsy and Delia. They're the greatest. Just look at them:

But let's get away from three-dimensional, well-crafted 1960s lesbian couples on television and get into this three-dimensional, well-crafted 2013 book. Shiverton Hall follows a long line of predecessors in that it's set at an English boarding school. Inevitably comparisons will be drawn to Harry Potter, but that is silly and cut it right out. Shiverton Hall is much darker than Harry Potter ever pretended to be. (except for maybe the time that snake came out the old woman's mouth and she collapsed in a flesh pile)

Shiverton Hall is about a boy (Arthur) who has been sent to a new school (Shiverton) after some unpleasantness at his old school (unpleasantness unnamed until end of book). Shiverton is an old English estate built by the most profligate of profligates. "Do we get stories of his profligacy?" you ask? YES. The structure alternates between the current day story of Arthur and his friends, and italicized tales of Shiverton Hall's terrifying past.

And it is terrifying. Fortunately not the kind that keeps you up at night, hearing creaks and thinking whatever's in the book is about to get you, but rather the kind where you read a line and say "Fuckfuckfuckfuck."

Which is obviously the fun kind.

There are two books so far in the Shiverton series (I bought the second before I'd finished the first), and upon finishing this one, I immediately googled "third shiverton book." The characters are likable, there's a Giles-from-Buffy-type teacher, and it's made me never want to think about my imaginary friends from childhood again.

I hope the series continues for as long as Emerald Fennell can keep thinking up horrible things to haunt Shiverton Hall. Because I am 100% there for all of that.


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