I'm trying to identify a ghost story that I read in about 1976. It's set in rural America in the 1930's, and the main characters are a pair of young twins - one good, and one evil.

The boys discover (or inherit?) a cursed artifact, which the evil twin uses to cause accidents to anyone he dislikes - for example, another boy is impaled on a pitchfork while playing in a barn, and a woman who has a row with their mother falls down the stairs and breaks her neck. The evil twin is himself killed in an accident (I think he falls down a well, but I'm not certain), possibly caused by the artifact, and his ghost returns to haunt the good twin and persuade him to move to the "dark side".

I'm afraid I don't remember the ending. Any help you can give would be most appreciated.

  • Welcome to SFF.SE! You've provided a fair amount of information, but anything additional you can add will help the people here help you! Do you recall the length of the story (short story, novel, in between)? If a short story, do you remember if it was in a book collection or a magazine - and if so, do you remember anything about that? Look at the answers to this question for suggestions on additional information you can add. If you think of anything please edit it into your question.
    – RDFozz
    Mar 21, 2018 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


This is a 1971 novel by Thomas Tryon called The Other. It was adapted into a 1972 film of the same name directed by Robert Mulligan.

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Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each other’s thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. Holland is bold and mischievous, a bad influence, while Niles is kind and eager to please, the sort of boy who makes parents proud. The Perrys live in the bucolic New England town their family settled centuries ago, and as it happens, the extended clan has gathered at its ancestral farm this summer to mourn the death of the twins’ father in a most unfortunate accident. Mrs. Perry still hasn’t recovered from the shock of her husband’s gruesome end and stays sequestered in her room, leaving her sons to roam free. As the summer goes on, though, and Holland’s pranks become increasingly sinister, Niles finds he can no longer make excuses for his brother’s actions.

Thomas Tryon’s best-selling novel about a homegrown monster is an eerie examination of the darkness that dwells within everyone. It is a landmark of psychological horror that is a worthy descendent of the books of James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith.


  • 1
    That's it, thanks very much. I remember now that "Niles" was the protagonist's name.
    – Tevildo
    Mar 22, 2018 at 0:35

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