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Where the Children Cry

14 Nov

Jenny Jones’ Where the Children Cry is by turns a ghost story, a horror, a history lesson and a gazetteer of the ancient city of York. The heroine, Louisa, looks back from the present day to a harrowing episode in her childhood when one of her classmates, a young Jewish boy named David, is mercilessly bullied to his death – an event which has chilling echoes of the massacre in 1190 of the Jews of York by a mob of townsfolk led by a sinister white-robed figure. When another Jewish family moves into Louisa’s neighbourhood this coincides with a rising of similar anti-semitic tensions and the terrifying reappearance of the unnamed figure in white. The author concentrates on building up an atmosphere of tension and a sense of impending doom rather than resorting to outright ‘horror’ as such (although there is one particularly toe-curling moment in the middle of the book which I would recommend any animal-lover to skip over). The real strength of the novel, however, is the vivid description of York, a city which Jones clearly knows well, and is hence able to depict in all its historic, brooding glory. In many ways York is the perfect setting for a ghost story, especially given that it is often regarded as the most haunted city in England, with a recent survey claiming that it has been the site of over 500 recorded hauntings.

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