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A Review of The Fall, by Bethany Griffin

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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!