Dan Sandman

14: I’m The King of The Castle by Susan Hill

In Books, Fiction, Horror on 04/04/2014 at 11:00 am

I'm The King of The Castle by Susan HillHorror films, such as The Omen, Child’d Play and The Shining, often involve evil children. It is frightening when young people – traditionally portrayed as innocents – take on psychopathic traits in stories.  I’m The King of The Castle by Susan Hill, first published in 1970, is one such horror story. However, unlike the Hollywood movies, or the novels of Stephen King, the supernatural does not contribute to the horror. Instead, Hill draws upon psychological fear, the crazed traits of a bully, and the anxieties and tensions between characters, to create a dark and evocative novel.

The story begins – as many Gothic ghost story do – with an old house located near a wood. Single father Mr. Hooper asks single mother Mrs. Kingshaw to move into the ugly Victorian building, following the death of his father. The action is focused on their two boys, referred to by surname as Hooper and Kingshaw throughout. Hooper is a malicious bully, able to orchestrate the adult’s opinions and conduct a campaign of intimidation upon Kingshaw.

As the story progresses, Kingshaw tries to run away, but Hooper follows him into Hang Wood. Whenever Kingshaw escapes, he is followed by Hooper; whenever Kingshaw wins, his victories are short lived. The result is a terrifying portrayal of life as seen from a bullied child’s perspective.

A dark fiction, worthy of discussion.

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