(by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
As ghastly, creaky, redundant and tedious as the accursed House of the Seven Gables itself, this classic Hawthorne is still worth reading for the atmospheric, overboiled thrills and Hawthorne’s unfailing psychological perceptions. Old Clifford, a crazed cross between Boo Radley and Dr Manette, is released from prison at just the juncture when his sister, the frowning and gaunt (she is an old SPINSTER) Hepzibah sets up shop after much deliberation and the delightful, fresh (she is a young MAIDEN) Phoebe arrives unheralded. These three share the House of the Seven Gables, ancient and gloomy home of the Pyncheons, built on stolen land, with a radical young daguerreotypist who has a secret of his own (no spoiler there). There are bloody deaths, an exhilarating train ride, cute urchins, weird chickens, meditations on time, convenient coincidences and restless ghosts aplenty in this southern gothic edifice.