By Micol Ostow, 2014
Rating: 👻👻👻1/2 (3.5 out of 4 boos)
“Connor's family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen's family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she's recovered from a psychotic break. But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor's nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren't there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?
Because Amity isn't just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she's done before. As she'll do again. And again. And again.”
What’s the main character like?
Teens Connor and Gwen share first-person narration. According to outsiders and themselves, they both have something off about them. Connor is always smiling at things he really shouldn’t be. Gwen repeats to herself, “Go away, crazy.” Well-developed with quirks and history, neither character gets lost in the shadow of who might arguably be the real star of this book: Amity.
How scary is it?
The book didn't give me nightmares… but I very strategically read it in the daytime. Heavy in its haunting, violent atmosphere, Amity feels more psychologically disturbing than horrifying. There are a few gory scenes and lots of tense moments. Also, keep in mind we are in the heads of Connor and Gwen, the two characters Amity calls to the most. That adds to the disturbing nature.
Who might like this book?
This book felt a lot like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House because of the house’s role as an active villain and the general sense of psychological chaos within the characters. Readers of typical haunted house books and ghost stories will appreciate this book.
What did I like best?
Mood, mood, mood. Spooky, tense, creepy. Ostow masterfully establishes mood through careful word choice, spacing, and punctuation. Although there was a plot, at times I felt like I didn’t even need one. I was just enjoying the vicarious feeling of being trapped, controlled, and messed with right along with the characters.
What wasn’t my favorite?
I’m sure I’m to blame for sloppy reading, but the beginning confused me. Connor has a sister character, and Gwen has a brother character, but Connor and Gwen are not brother and sister to each other. I didn't catch the different names (Jules and Luke) and assumed the book was switching between the brother's and sister's heads within the same time frame. Things kept not making sense until I figured out (not too far in luckily) they weren't related and weren't even writing within the same decade. Again, it’s my fault. I’m sure there was giant font that announced we were jumping time periods.