0

A Review of Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1), by Kim Liggett

23845997

Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

– – – – –

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: intriguing, unique horror story; a romance that sweeps you off your feet and leaves you crushed at the end; lots of twists, turns, and general roller-coaster emotions; intense drama, mystery, teenage angst, and the occult; an outside perspective into the “cult” lifestyle

This was one of my most anticipated reads for the month of October, so when I “treated” myself to a few newly released kindle books, I made SURE this was one I snatched up. Having finished it not long ago… I’m so glad that I did.

From the very first page, Kim Liggett wraps readers in a world of mysterious occult happenings and intense, breath-stealing drama. The prose is absolutely GORGEOUS, with hints of the poetic and lyric combining to make certain moments—and descriptions—almost sing-songy and picturesque. This story literally drags readers in head-first, and keeps them enthralled until the very end.

Then I thought of my mother’s words. Maybe this was what she meant by blood and salt.

Salt in the wound.

The characters are realistic and complex, leaping off the page to tug at your heartstrings and make you long to know what happens next. Even the minor characters are redeemable, lovable, and surprising, helping to bring this story more fully to life. You will root for them, you will loathe them, and you will understand them all at once. Their motivations, their reactions, and their interactions all come together in beautiful, painful ways, keeping readers always guessing. Keeping readers effectively in the dark until the right moments.

Fireworks didn’t go off in my chest when he touched me, but maybe that was better—who wants to spend their whole life getting burned?

The world-building is done well, a staggering look into the “magic” of the occult… and the ways beliefs can, sometimes, become obsession. Can go wrong. Kim Liggett gives readers an interesting, dramatic glimpse into a world most of us aren’t privvy to, and weaves the story together like the frayed edges of a favorite shirt. The plot is strong and serves a purpose; no stone is left unturned, no hole left to fester and seep at the end—everything comes together in a resounding, breath-stealing conclusion you won’t expect. The twisty-turny structure, the “big reveal,” all lead to a heart-stopping ending that both ties up the loose ends and leaves room for the next book in the series (to be published sometime in 2016)!

But I still felt Dane like a phantom limb.

Every step I took away from him only seemed to deepen the ache. I loved him and I hated him. Even whispering his name felt like fire and ice scraping against my lungs. And now I was bound to him for all eternity, a prisoner of my blood.

I absolutely LOVED this read, and can’t wait for the second book to be released! This is devour-worthy, filled with chills, thrills, and the obsession of first-love…and wanting things we can never have. This is one read you don’t want to miss—I’d definitely recommend, particularly to lovers of authors like Stephen King, William Shakespeare, and Rin Chupeco. This is a must read!

0

A Review of Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles #2), by Gena Showalter

15755296

Zombies stalk the night. Forget blood and brains. These monsters hunger for human souls. Sadly, they’ve got mine…

Alice Bell has lost so much. Family. Friends. A home. She thought she had nothing else to give. She was wrong.

After a new zombie attack, strange things begin to happen to her. Mirrors come to life, and the whispers of the dead assault her ears. But the worst? A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do very wicked things.

She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more, but ultra bad-boy Cole Holland, the leader and her boyfriend, suddenly withdraws from her…from everyone. Now, with her best friend Kat at her side, Ali must kill the zombies, uncover Cole’s secret and learn to fight the darkness.

But the clock is ticking…and if she fails at a single task, they’re all doomed.

– – – – –

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: new, unique plot twists to keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats; a seperate story from the wider-arc; no cliff-hanger ending; emotionally charged drama, suspense, and action

Ali Bell has been through a LOT. But if you thought all the drama, action, and emotionally-charged scenes would come to an end in book one, you’re sadly mistaken.

“Ali Bell doesn’t play hide-and-seek,” Lucas said. “She plays hide-and-pray-I-don’t-find-you.”

Mackenzie smiled. “When Ali Bell gives you the finger, she’s telling you how many seconds you have to live.”

Cole chuckled, saying, “Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, and fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, but fear of Ali Bell is just called logic.”

“Oh, oh.” Kat clapped excitedly. “There used to be a street named after Ali Bell, but it was changed because nobody crosses Ali Bell and lives. True story.”

With the same snark, wit, and unique style as the first book in this series, Gena Showalter takes readers one step further into her world of spirit-zombies and slayers in this intense, action-packed read. And I feel the need to say this right up front: if you’re the kind who thrives on cliff-hanger endings, on a story wide-arcing across thewhole of a series and adding pressure to readers to “continue” to know what happens next…these books might not be for you. Because while there IS a wider-arcing story….it falls a bit in the background, taking a backseat instead to each unique and individually crafted event. While each book “ties in” with the next…there is no cliff-hanger ending. There is no REAL pressure to wait around and see what happens next. Each book is it’s own monster, with a beginning and ending that stand apart, on their own. While you still need to read the series in order to fully understand what’s going on, each book presents (and solves) it’s own problems, making this a bit unique in terms of trilogies/series in our modern-day world.

The characters also continue to grow, thrive, and change. Facing their own set of problematic situations, emotions, and baggage, Gena Showalter breathed life into each and every character we meet, molding them into unique and strong-standing pieces to the story. The changes brought about both strengthen and weaken them; they aren’t your average, everyday “plastic hero,” but instead realistic people with faults and flaws.

I felt my hand curl into a fist. Felt my elbow draw back. Felt my arm dart forward, my knuckles crack into Cole’s jaw. I couldn’t stop myself. His head whipped to the side, and blood leaked from a cut in his lip. Behind me, gasps of shock abounded.

“I’m recovered,” I said. “Believe me now?”

Those violet eyes slitted when they found me. “Assault and battery is illegal.”

“So have me arrested.”

He closed what little distance there was between us. Suddenly I could feel his warmth of his breath caressing my skin. “How about I put you over my lap and spank you instead?”

“How about I knee your balls into your throat?”

“If you’re going to play with that particular area, I’d rather you use your hands.”

“My hands aren’t going near that area ever again.”

A pause. Then, “I bet I could change your mind,” he whispered huskily.

“I bet I could bash yours.” I drew back another fist, but he was ready and caught me midswing. His pupils dilated, a sign of arousal. Another sign: he began to pant. He was acting like I’d tried to unbuckle his jeans rather than smack fire out of him.

“Hit me again,” he said, still using the same whispered tone, “and I’ll take it as an invitation.”

The snark and intelligent banter is as STRONG as ever in this book; Cole and Ali reach a sort of…peak…with their relationship, and were more realistic on the page while fighting than most book couples I can think of off the top of my head (well…save for one. Will and Tessa, I’m looking at you) Despite the sometimes loathing that sparked between them, there was still room (as evidenced in the quote above) for witty humor. Gena Showalter is a QUEEN with insults and snark, and I giggled many times while reading.

There were a few…contradictions? Between what Ali knew she should/shouldn’t do and what she ACTUALLY did, but they weren’t big enough for me to really focus on, and besides, we all know Ali is a stubborn, bull-headed girl sometimes. So while the contradictions were there…they also sort of fit in with her personality, and that made them work.

“So…have you ever thought about dyeing your hair punk-rocker-chick black? As I’m sure you’ve heard, I have a thing for brunettes and always avoid blondes.”

“I’ve heard. And no.”

“Too bad. Because you’re making me rethink my stance about doing my friends’ exes.” I snorted, not even trying to hide my…incredulity? Surely I wasn’t amused.

“You’re making me rethink my stance on cold-blooded homicide.”

Overall, I enjoyed this read almost as much as the first one, and can’t wait to jump into the third! I would still recommend to lovers of zombie lore, unique world-building, and snarky, feisty characters. I’d also, however, extend the recommendation to those who loathe a cliff-hanger ending—these reads don’t have them. If you’re into any of the things above, these just might be the books for you!

0

A Review of Tabatha, by Neil Gibson and Caspar Wijngaard

26068886 18042180

Luke works as a mailman in Los Angeles and moonlights as a thief – the empty houses on his postal route are rich, easy pickings for him and his friends. Everything goes to plan until one house turns out to not quite be so empty. The situation spirals out of control, leaving the happy go lucky thieves battling for their lives. And all because of Tabatha.

—–

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: creepy, gorgeous, witty artwork; realistic and believable dialogue; a terrifying exploration of obsession, mental illness, and the “mad scientist” cliche; inventive, engaging, and highly entertaining read

Many thanks to Netgalley, Diamond Book Distributors, Neil Gibson (writer) and Caspar Wijngaard (illustrator) for this reading opportunity!

I’ve been trying to expand my horizons in the graphic novels/comics genre, so when I discovered this on Netgalley as a “Read Now” title, I immediately snatched it up. The blurb was so intriguing, I NEEDED to know what happened—and why.

Immediately stepping into this world was easy; the story starts out practically in the middle, setting readers up with the mood and theme. The artwork stands out immediately: the characters are a rich blend of “graphic” and “realistic,” while the villain maintains a sort of Joker-esque grin throughout that left me shivering.

The panels are also unique and inventive, often taking different or unusual perspectives and always leaving my eye wanting to see more, to know more, to find more. Shots from, for instance, a peep hole, with the character on the other side bent or elongated to fit the proper angle, had me both giggling and in awe of the artistic talent. Implementing stylistic choices like layered panels, color washes, and shifting sizes also helped keep me entertained and reading the panels correctly—I didn’t have to guess at or work to figure out the sequence.

The artist also took care to use color to full advantage; this works especially well when viewing the world through a certain characters eyes, as color shifts help keep readers (without stating the obvious or including other tells) knowing which character is speaking at specific moments. The reasoning behind certain colors was revealed in the “extras” section at the end of this novel, which I appreciated and found relevant.

The characters are also complex; even the villain has a heartbreaking, almost endearing backstory, and while I don’t condone at all the actions he took, I at least was able to understand and empathize with him a little better at the end. The main circle of friends is engaging, entertaining, and entirely too much trouble for their own good—just as any awesome friendship should be. I loved the witty banter, the sparks of humanity, and the emphasis on strength (both personal and as a whole) throughout. None of these characters are “perfect” or “completely honest”; they’re HUMAN, and that made this read a ton of fun. Their motives are realistic, their hearts are easy to read, and they all make mistakes; this was refreshing, and helped create a more “realistic” graphic novel.

This is a witty, spine-tingling tale that is bound to leave readers pondering—as per any good horror/psychological thriller, the ending is ambiguous and left open to interpretation. I found a few of the chapter openers a bit difficult to follow (the first jump backward in time sort of confused me, though I caught on fairly quickly after that) but I understand the need for these—the backstory of each character/relationship is as important as the story taking place in current day, and helped me to better understand each character’s motivations. The examination and exploration of popular cliches (rose-tinted glasses play a BIG part in this story) was both engaging and entertaining.

While creepy (and please, if you don’t like gore, you might want to really think about reading this, as some of the scenes are rather bloody and grotesque), the story still managed to grasp at my heart and make me FEEL things. It wasn’t ALL about the blood, the violence, the scares—it was also about being human, making choices we might regret, and the ways our personalities are shaped by those we let into our lives.

This was an awesome, engaging, and terrifying read, and I’m so happy I found it. I will be getting this for my shelves in the future, after it’s released. If you love graphic novels/comics, horror or psychological thrillers, this is something you should definitely look into! I’d also recommend to lovers of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Clive Barker.

This title will be available for purchase on Amazon November 5th, 2015.

2

A Review of The Glass Casket, by McCormick Templeman

13600701

Death hasn’t visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders’ bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.

Rowan’s village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan’s door once again.

Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.

– – – – –

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: gorgeous prose; crisp, clear descriptions readers can almost see/feel/hear/taste/smell; a complex, entertaining blend of fairy tale and horror/mystery; an edge-of-your-seat, keep-you-up-all-night journey

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this read! I can’t even explain right now, so I’ll start with something simple. The cover? Absolutely gorgeous. The words on both the front AND the spine of the dusk jacket are raised, and sort of allude to the “glass casket”–a fitting title, all things considered, though not QUITE what this story is about!

The prose is beautiful. McCormick Templeman obviously knows a thing or two about the “show, don’t tell” schpeal—she does so beautifully. Don’t believe me? Take a glimpse at a few of my favorite beautiful quotes, why don’t you:

“Roughly Rowan’s age, the girl had been beautiful in the way that a crisp apple was delicious—almost too sharp, but with an underlying sweetness that makes its jaggedness seem merely bright.” (page 8)

“To look on a dead man’s secrets was to invite disaster.” (page 26)

“Fear is the domain of the small-minded. You are to be a scholar, my dear, and scholars do not go around fearing the wind and quivering away at the thought of wolves.” (page 38)

“There are some men who love only once, and Tom Parstle was such a man.” (page 335)

There’s this beautiful, almost masterful blending of fairy tales and horror that leaves a delicious, anticipatory tingle across the mind while reading. The characters leap to life from the page, secrets held and kept close until just the right moment, the many unexpected twists catching at hearts. You never know quite what to expect next; McCormick Templeman worked hard to keep readers from being able to see TOO far ahead, instead playing foreshadowing and clues close to the page.

I’ve read a few other reviews for this, and discovered some people feel it opened too slowly. I didn’t feel it did; I was so wrapped up in the beautiful imagery, so ensnared by the characters and their different movements, I felt the read passed more quickly than I might have liked—it was over too soon, leaving me wishing for more.

There are several nods toward well-known fairy tales: Snow White and Red Riding Hood play very prominent roles in the creation of this tale, I have a feeling, and McCormick Templeman both honored them and made them just enough her own to stand apart. The tale of Sleeping Beauty also, for a moment, makes an entrance. All of these elements are woven and interlocked so tightly, you wouldn’t know they were there unless you were actively looking (I was). The horror puts a new, and decidedly Brothers Grimm, twist to each of these well-loved stories.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a TRUE YA fairy tale/retelling without a love triangle…but it’s done so well, you won’t even notice it’s there. (And really, if I’m being honest, it’s more a love…hectagon? Is that even a thing? Who cares, it’s a thing now.) There IS something very close to insta-love…but again, there’s just such a twist on it to make it work for this story, so I didn’t mind it much either. The idea behind it is carefully done; I appreciated McCormick Templeman’s sensitivity toward such cliches/tropes in this. She also explored religion and personal beliefs in a fascinating, emotionally engaging way, so I applaud her for this as well.

I should probably put a trigger warning on this read for violence, gore, and almost-rape; if these things make you at all uncomfortable, please consider them carefully before picking up this read.

Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this, and would definitely recommend to lovers of fairy tales, retellings, and horror/mystery stories alike. A must-read!

2

A Review of The Suffering, by Rin Chupeco

25359427

Over the last year I’ve gone against faceless women, disfigured spirits, and grotesque revenants. Some people keep dangerous hobbies; skydiving and driving at monster truck rallies and glacier surfing. Me? I cast my soul into the churning waters of potential damnation and wait for a bite.

It’s been two years since Tark Halloway’s nightmare ended. Free from the evil spirit that haunted him all his life, he now aids the ghostly Okiku and avenges the souls of innocent children by hunting down their murderers. But when Okiku becomes responsible for a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they seek out.

When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, both must resolve their differences and return to that country of secrets to find her.

Because there is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting.

A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil – one that may be stronger than even Okiku…

– – – –

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: nightmare inducing; a fresh, unique take on Aokigahara—and its purpose; action-packed, this read is a wild, desperate journey to find answers, to find peace, to find strength

I finished The Girl in the Well, by Rin Chupeco, recently. While scouring my kindle books, I discovered an ARC for THIS beauty—the second book in the series! I don’t know how I managed to pull that one off, but the book angels must have been looking out for me when I picked up book one a few weeks ago. HUGE thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and netgalley for sending an ARC of this (the second book in the series) to me for review! (Please note, this in no way had a standing upon the rating I’ve given, or the review you’re about to read.)

This book? This book is DAMN SCARY. If you read my review for the first book in this series, you’ll know the first book CREEPED. ME. OUT.

But this one? This quasi-companion novel? It will inspire my nightmares for the next few months, I’m positive. This book took the creep factor, mated it with horror, and became something else entirely. I’d almost say this is on-par with horror movies in the same vein as the novel; it’s THAT creepy, and that awesome.

I really loved that the POV for this was switched from Okiku to Tark; while we still maintain the same Okiku/Tark relationship, there’s a higher emphasis on Tark’s feelings, Tark’s thoughts, and—you probably saw this coming—Tark’s reactions to the ghost world he now haunts (or is it the ghost world haunting him?) as a human with a gift/curse. Because Tark remains, ever vigilantely, HUMAN—and that means he reacts to the world of ghosts around him much differently from Okiku, who’s been thriving among the dead for hundreds of years. Tark hasn’t become disillusioned with the extraordinary. Tark is still, despite all evidence to the contrary, disturbed by ghosts.

Which makes hunting them interesting, to say the least. I think I loved that it’s from Tark’s perspective most because Tark’s fear, Tark’s unease—pretty much all the emotions of Tark, if we’re being honest—BLEED through the words. Readers are enthralled with and haunted by his voice—the strength, the independence, and that little something darker that keeps him from losing himself TOO much to the hunt. Readers are drawn into Tark’s world with him, so leaving this story in his voice made it much easier—and scarier!–to connect with him on a personal level.

The relationship growth between Tark and Okiku is realistic (at least in the ways that it SHOULD be) and emotional. They don’t just grow as individuals—with their current embodiment, they have to learn how to grow TOGETHER, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, means a bit of awkardness, a bit of fumbling, and a lot of open-minded learning on both their parts.

I really enjoyed the play on fireflies throughout—from the first book to this one. It helps to bring the story full-circle, in a sense, while still remaining it’s own story. I feel like, for the most part, this companion novel could ALMOST stand alone; there are only a few things readers might be confused about, if they were to pick this up before reading The Girl in the Well.

While I’m a bit disappointed in how little we get to see Tark with OTHER characters—Callie, his dad, Kagura all seem sort of bystanders to this story in the end—there are some AWESOME scenes between Tark and Okiku, Tark and the other ghosts they encounter on their journey, Tark and Kendele… Overall, it wasn’t as upsetting as it might have been, had the story been less stressful and frightening.

I also like how the story plays out; Rin Chupeco didn’t take the normal route with her ending. She didn’t choose the easy path. She forged ever forward, clinging to the idea she started writing with, and managed, in the process, to begin AND end with the same short line from Tark: “I am not a hero.” This is a powerful statement, and she backs it up spectacularly with a story of loss, grief, vengeance, anger and finding the answers you seek always in yourself first. The setting is spooky, the tone both sombre and a bit poking fun.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, keep-you-awake all night read. I’d definitely recommend to fans of Stephen King, Clive Barker, or Grady Hendrix. You won’t want to put this one down!

This book will be available September 8th, 2015 from Sourcebooks Fire–keep an eye out for it!

0

A Review of The Girl from the Well, by Rin Chupeco

25263927

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

– – – – –

Rating: 4/5 Stars (more like 4.5 though)

Quick Reasons: kick ass ghost protagonist; awesome introduction to and use of Japanese folklore/ghost stories; creepy, keeps-you-up-at-night story; dark, suspenseful action that keeps you entertained and on the edge of your seat

I have to start by saying this: I probably should have read this in October. Because this book? This is horror at it’s finest—the creep factor, the blood and gore, even the writing style employed by Rin Chupeco throughout SCREAMS nail-biting, fist-clenching suspense. And I LOVED it.

That being said, I am glad I picked this book up recently. I debated while in the bookstore; I haven’t heard anything about this story OR its author, and while I’d seen the cover for the second book in this series floating around goodreads recently, I hadn’t looked too much into the plot. I went into this read knowing pretty much nothing, and I suggest, if you intend to pick this book up in the future, you do the same—in my opinion, that just made it SO much better.

So, I’m sure most of you have seen (or have heard about?) that movie from several years ago—The Ring? You know that main character who crawls up out of a well, through the television screen and into real life to murder whoever happened to be stupid (or bold?) enough to watch a certain special VHS tape?

Yeah, her. THAT’s who the main character for this novel is—except in this novel, we’re given a different look at her entirely. In this novel, we are allowed a glimpse into her backstory…and into her deepest self.

I really enjoyed, to begin with, the point of view of this book. Unlike other books I’ve read with ghost main characters, THIS one knows she’s creepy. This one accepts that she doesn’t hang around for good reasons, or unfinished business. This one knows exactly what she is, and she’s totally cool with it, because to hell with moving on or finding peace, right? Sometimes, a ghost’s gotta do what a ghost’s gotta do.

Seriously though—for a ghost, Okiku goes through a HELL of a lot of character growth in a few short chapters. I loved that this is so heavily-based upon the original ghost story, that so much of this book relies upon Japanese folklore. The author even goes so far as to explain the difference between Japanese exorcisms and “American” ones—and let me tell you, I’m never looking at a porcelain doll the same way again. I mean, I already thought they were creepy…now I’m avoiding them at all costs. Forever. No, don’t try to change my mind on this—read the book and you’ll understand!

I really enjoyed just how suspenseful this read was. There’s just enough gore and ick to make you feel like you’re watching this play out on the big screen, pushing readers out of their comfort zones. The narrator is…well, she’s a ghost, but she’s not trapped to one house or area, so she’s allowed to see beyond the scope of herself/one object—which means, as a narrator, she’s pretty damn close to omniscient. It’s interesting, seeing the world through HER eyes as opposed to an outside point of view—she brings a different mood, tone, and understanding to the events occurring in the world. Also, she murders child murderers…which just makes her ten times more awesome and easy to sympathize with, in my opinion.

The other main characters are well-rounded, their backstories weaving together in a tapestry of horror and mystery. There’s a sense of…not time running out, necessarily, but…YOU, as the reader, will feel haunted while reading—by the things you don’t know, by the things you don’t yet understand. Rin Chupeco did an outstanding job staying true to the horror genre, and brought ghosts to life for me in a way I haven’t seen done before. The writing is also pretty spectacular, employing different fonts and line breaks to drive home certain thoughts, ideas, and key plot points.

Overall, this was an outstanding read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’d definitely recommend to lovers of ghost stories and horror movies; you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

0

A Review of The Fall, by Bethany Griffin

18241263

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: creepy and horrifying story!; a “makes you ponder/question everything” ending; a lot of mystery; a horror-spun retelling

Please keep in mind I haven’t actually READ Edgar Allan Poe’s, and therefore am only basing my review on THIS rendition!

That being said: I didn’t get the feeling, at any point in my reading, that I NEEDED to read Poe’s original story before reading this; this novel seems to bridge the gap between the two stories with enough exposition and postulation to make it almost seamless. While there were some confusing instances in the writing, I think that had more to do with the way this was written than with incongruities or inconsistencies.

Starting this book…well, it was pretty horrifying. The things that Madeline and her twin, Roderick, go through during their time in the Usher house were just…I found myself biting my lip, or clenching my fingers together, to keep from fidgeting in agitation or anxiousness. Because there is a curse on the Ushers…but in this rendition of the story, the house itself is a BIG part of it. The house itself is alive.

The characters and their motivations are unclear at first; it takes a little getting-used-to to figure out that this story mostly follows Madeline/her life trapped in the house’s walls. While we get glimpses of Roderick’s life at school, they are through Madeline’s eyes, and are only mere snippets.

The writing is very easy to get into, and the pages go really quickly. Each character introduced serves some purpose to the story, though not all of them stick around longer than a few days/weeks. In fact, many of them simply disappear… And the parents! Don’t get me started here. I WAS confused, at one point–the twins are remembering a funeral, and they seem to both think it was one or the other parent’s…but they each remember it being the OTHER parents from the other twin’s memory. So I was left thinking…did the parents even die? Or did they just vanish into the depths of the house, like the ill-fated characters in Stephen King’s The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red  or Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves??? And if the parents really DID die….then who is it at the end, digging in the dirt, searching for I can only assume Madeline? Or was it perhaps the Doctor again, crazy in his obsession to cut open the dead and study their insides?

There weren’t too many questions left unanswered aside from the one above, and I think the one above was left unanswered for a purpose. Like those horror movies that end on a questioning note, I think the last chapter of this book was written not only for the creepy factor, but to make readers think and come up with their own interpretations.

Overall, this was a REALLY enjoyable read for me! I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s read and enjoyed the books mentioned above; a real page-turner, gripping in story and creep factor. If you enjoy books that leave you thinking, that twist your fears inside out and leave you sleepless at night, this is for you!