Author: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: October 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Horror
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Madeline Usher is cursed. Her family home, the House of Usher, loves her and will not let her leave. It bewitches her mind and those of the doctor’s around here, sent to study her family’s long illness. The House gives and takes away. Madeline cannot escape the house. But she will try….
I was so disappointed in this book. I really enjoyed Griffin’s other two books that were based on Poe’s other works so I was looking forward to this one. Sadly, it didn’t live up to expectations.
Madeline is a whisp of a creature. She’s haunted, cursed and doomed to go into madness as the family home invades her mind. Trapped inside this tomb, her twin brother Roderick is sent away from the house’s clutches but even he is called back again and again to the house. Madeline is soft, lonely and like a ghost herself. I don’t have to like the character, but I need to at least care if she escapes her circumstances. But with Madeline, her inner monologue is twisted and sad. She is kind of pathetic and her emotions and ideas flip flop back and forth so much, I didn’t feel like I had a good read on her and by the middle of the book, I didn’t really care. She is trying to be strong and to outwit and manipulate the creaters that hold her capitive, but she’s more of a wet noodle who shuffles from room to room with little direction and no personality.
Roderick is maddening as the twin brother who doesn’t believe his mad sister. He wasn’t around very much and when he was, I was just tired and bored of him. Also, the story shifts from them as young children to them as older children. But the Roderick of youth is unrecognizable as the teenage Roderick and I felt nothing towards him either.
The chapters are very short, and most flip flop between the years when Madeline is older (sixteen, seventeen, eighteen) and younger (ten, twelve, etc.) It would be more striking if the chapters were longer and we got to live in that time for a while, but as the chapters are so very short, the story feels more disjointed and lacks the usual flow and tension build. Each chapter ending is left with an open question or cliff hanger, but it felt more gimmicky and not as well done.
The house does have a great sense of aura, the book an overall dark and sinister tone. There’s no doubt that Griffin is a great writer and has some cool twists on traditional ideas. But the book dragged on for me. So little happens for a book that has over 140 chapters! and I found myself bored, wishing the house would just swallow them already.
Rating 4 Not My Cup Of Tea