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The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

What I knew about this book going in: Oscar Wilde wrote a story about an English ghost having to cope with an American family who are completely unrattled about living in a haunted house. And I have to say, this fulfilled all my expectations.

The ghost of Canterville Chase is that of Sir Simon of Canterville, who has successfully been haunting the home for about 300 years by the time the Otis family turns up. Canterville Chase comes with a housekeeper who’s more than happy to fill the family in on every creepy story. And the first one? A blood stain on the carpet that “has much been admired by tourists and others, and cannot be removed.” The eldest Otis son immediately declares that it can be removed with Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent, and scours the carpet clean. The ghost puts the stain back the next morning, but it’s the thought that counts. My favorite part of that scene is not only the fact that the stain remover works, but a teenage boy was carrying it with him, ready to use it at any time. Aside from being hilarious in its own right, this scene sets the tone for all future interactions between the ghost and the Otis family.

The story is a delight and I recommend it for anybody looking for a comedic ghost story or wanting fiction about somebody reacting in a practical manner to living in a haunted house. The resolution to the haunting was also one I didn’t expect, which makes me like the story even more.